Changes in Latitudes - Northeast Gas Pulled South by Florida Power Plants and Sabal Trail

Florida’s increasing demand for natural gas for power generation isn’t new, but like a young alligator in the Everglades, its appetite is voracious and growing. More and more gas-fired power plants have been coming online, increasing gas demand and spurring the development of new gas pipeline capacity into the state. And, because of big shifts in where gas is being produced and where it’s flowing, the Sunshine State will soon be receiving an increasing share of its gas needs from the Marcellus region. Today, we begin a two-part look at how rising generation-sector demand for gas and a new pipeline are changing gas-flow dynamics in the U.S. Southeast.

Florida has very limited onshore reserves of crude oil and natural gas, and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s coast (where there is a lot of oil and gas) has been banned since the 1990s. Still, Florida has been an occasional topic in the RBN blogosphere, mostly because it is a leading generator of electricity — second only to Texas, in fact — and because gas in recent years has become far-and-away the preferred generation fuel in the state. Florida’s electric utilities have been particularly aggressive in their shift from coal (and nuclear) generation to gas, and that spurred the development of the state’s third major gas pipeline (we’ll get to the other two in a moment): the 1.1-Bcf/d Sabal Trail Pipeline, which runs more than 500 miles from an interconnect with Williams’s Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (Transco; orange line in Figure 1) in west-central Alabama to the Orlando area. [A related pipeline called Florida Southeast Connection delivers gas into South Florida (green line in Figure 1).] We first discussed Sabal Trail five years ago, in Mickey Mouse Gas Hub in Orlando?, then looked at the coming flows of gas from the Marcellus/Utica region four and a half years ago, in a blog called Miami 2017 and more recently — just before Sabal Trail started operating in June 2017 — in Mainline Florida. With more than a year of Sabal Trail operational history in the books and Florida’s mid-summer weather as hot and humid as modern man and woman can bear, we decided it was time for an update.

Florida is now served by three major gas pipelines: the 3.1-Bcf/d Florida Gas Transmission (FGT; pink line), the 1.3-Bcf/d Gulfstream Natural Gas System (Gulfstream; blue line), and Sabal Trail (yellow line), the last of which was co-sponsored by Enbridge and the corporate parents of Florida’s two largest electric utilities — NextEra Resources (parent of Florida Power & Light, or FPL), and Duke Energy (parent of Duke Energy Florida, or DEF).

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