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They Long to Be Close to You—The Marcellus/Utica Push to Reverse Gas Pipelines

With the Northeast natural gas market now dominated by physical flows from the Marcellus/Utica, Appalachia producers are targeting the Midwest, the Southeast and—the biggest prize of all—the LNG export projects under development along the Gulf Coast. Getting gas to market, however, requires a top-to-bottom re-plumbing of interstate pipelines originally designed to move gas from the Gulf Coast, not to it. In today’s episode of our series on moving gas out of the Marcellus/Utica we look at plans to add bi-directionality to pipelines within the Midwest and to the Gulf.

In our series opener, we discussed how gas production has been rising in the Marcellus/Utica (2 Bcf/d in 2010; 15 Bcf/d now; an estimated 22 Bcf/d by 2019), and how midstream companies are playing catch-up. In Part 2, we looked at Spectra Energy’s multi-phase plan to rework its Texas Eastern Transmission (TETCO) trunkline to allow more southbound gas deliveries, and at Spectra’s plan (with NextEra Energy) to build the 1.1 Bcf/d Sabal Trail gas pipeline from Transco’s Station 85 (in west-central Alabama) to near Orlando. That spurred discussion—in Part 3—of plans by Williams to make its Transco mainline bi-directional from New Jersey to west-central Alabama, as well as plans by Williams and others to build major laterals to move southbound Marcellus/Utica gas to consumers in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.





Why are refineries limited in the portion of light crude that can be run?  What are the current limits on light crude runs?  If U.S. refineries cannot absorb all of this volume and it cannot be exported, where will all this light crude go?    These questions and many more will be addressed at this conference, to be held August 19-20 in Houston.  More information on Surviving the Flood here.

This time we focus on bi-directionality projects within the Midwest and between Marcellus/Utica and the Gulf Coast, including the plan to allow east-or-west gas movement through Zone 3 of the Rockies Express pipeline (REX). We already have considered (in Part 2) two Spectra projects that fit in this category. One was TEAM South, which by November (2014) will allow up to 300 MMcf/d to flow south from TETCO’s Zone M2 west of Uniontown, PA to its Zone ELA in Mississippi. The other was Spectra’s Ohio Pipeline Energy Network (OPEN), which will consist of 76 miles of new mainline pipeline from the heart of the Utica in Columbiana County, OH to an interconnection with TETCO’s system at Clarington, OH, as well as reverse-flow modifications at existing compressor stations along TETCO’s mainline in Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana. The fully subscribed, 550 MMcf/d OPEN project will begin operation in the second half of 2015.

Tallgrass Rockies Express

First, REX. In our blog series Get Back to Where You Once Belonged—The REX Reversal and Implications for Marcellus/Utica, we described the toe-in-the-water effort by REX’s owners (Tallgrass Development with 50%, Sempra Energy and Phillips 66 with 25% each) to convert Zone 3 (the part of REX between Mexico, MO, and Clarington, OH; see Figure #1) on what had been a west-to-east pipeline into a bi-directional header system capable of moving large volumes of Utica/Marcellus gas east-to-west.

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