State-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said it formed a "strategic alliance" with Switzerland's Mercuria and U.S. financial titan J.P. Morgan to import natural gas from the United States.

"The strategy will be created by leveraging J.P. Morgan's North American physical natural gas business, which is being acquired by Mercuria," Pemex said in a statement.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said in March that it planned to sell its physical commodities business to Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. for $3.5 billion, with the deal expected to close in the third quarter of 2014.

The partners expect to start operations in the fourth quarter of this year, with commencement of gas imports timed to begin with the opening of the Los Ramones pipeline, which crosses five Mexican states, Pemex said.

The state-owned oil giant said the alliance would "guarantee a reliable long-term supply of natural gas for Mexico at competitive prices" and strengthen its position in the regional natural gas markets.

The deal also lays the foundation for making inroads into other energy products and regions, Pemex said.

The alliance will become one of the five leading players in the North American natural gas market, "positioning itself strategically and maintaining an integrated vision for the gas markets in Mexico, the United States and Canada," Pemex said.

Mexico imports about one-third of the natural gas it consumes despite having huge reserves of the clean-burning fuel.

The 2013 energy industry reforms, whose implementing legislation is being debated in Congress, call for natural gas production to rise from 5.7 billion cubic meters per day today to 8 billion cubic meters per day by 2018.

Production is expected to soar to 10.4 billion cubic meters per day in 2025, allowing Mexico to become a gas exporter. EFE