It’s no secret that the political and regulatory environments for new pipeline development in New York and the New England states are notoriously challenging. That reputation has been reaffirmed recently, as several natural gas pipeline projects targeting the region have been sidelined by permitting delays or denials. As a result the region continues to experience gas transportation constraints and price spikes during peak demand periods. But midstreamers have had some success penetrating the New York City metropolitan market (including the Lower Hudson Valley, Long Island and northern New Jersey), which may bode well for the handful of projects currently looking to serve the area. Today, we review recent and planned capacity additions into The Big Apple and its greater metro area.
Despite their proximity to the lowest-priced natural gas in the country — from the Marcellus/Utica shales — many of the East Coast’s heavily populated metro areas continue to experience gas-transportation constraints and, as a result, pay some of the highest prices in the country for their gas and electricity during peak demand periods. As we detailed in a blog last February, (2 Minutes To Midnight), the New England-New York region is becoming more dependent on gas-fired power, driven by a big push to reduce emissions. Nuclear, coal and older oil-fired power plants are aggressively being shuttered and replaced by new, more-efficient and cleaner-burning gas-fired units. Con Edison (one of the largest utilities in New York) reported that between 2012 and 2016, more than 5,000 large New York City buildings had been converted from oil to natural gas for heating. In addition, the Northeast Gas Association (NGA) in its 2017 Regional Market report said that the number of homes heating with natural gas in the Northeast has increased by more than one million since 2008.
While these dynamics seem to make the region a prime candidate for midstream development, pipeline additions to increase gas supply to the region have been relatively few and far between. Public and political opposition in the region tends to be stiff. Environmental controls over factors affecting local resources, including water, are stringent. Not surprisingly, the regulatory approval process is typically lengthy and expensive. Thus, while the stakes are higher, so is the risk. But there is one part of the region where midstreamers have made inroads — the greater New York City metro area.