Posts from Bob Bookstaber

Over the past two years, natural gas production from the Appalachian region has soared with growth in the Marcellus pushing total production beyond 10.5 Bcf/d.  Just next door the Utica Shale is coming into focus with attractive economics due to the natural gas liquids, crude oil and condensate production.  The looming question is natural gas takeaway capacity.  With Marcellus production continuing to grow and Utica supplies coming on, production in the Northeast will soon exceed regional consumption and will need to be moved out of the region to other markets in the U.S. and Canada.  To accomplish this, new pipelines have been proposed and reversals of existing infrastructure that was originally built to transport gas into the region are being implemented. Today we review another of the proposed projects.

Growth in natural gas demand forecasts these days rely heavily on projections of increased power burn. Lack of coordination between the gas and electric industries threatens to limit that expansion. The greatest challenge is the security of gas supply to the generators and how that impacts reliability. Regional differences in the electric power market appear to make national regulations to secure gas supplies unworkable. Today we review FERC efforts to understand and perhaps attempt to standardize those regional differences.

During 2012 the FERC jumped into the ring to involve itself in the long running debate to improve coordination between the gas and electric power industries. The FERC is motivated by concerns about reliability and the trend to increase power generation from natural gas at the expense of coal and oil. The commission held 5 regional conferences to identify the industry’s concerns and the role of regulation in any solutions. Today we examine progress on this important initiative.

The generation of power from natural gas will be the most important growth sector for the gas industry for the foreseeable future – certainly for producers, but also for the pipelines that provide the transportation service to deliver the gas to power generators. Handling the infrastructure and service challenges that come with increased power burn is therefore a priority. This is true for the nation as a whole, but was specifically raised this year by the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) in the heart of coal country - where coal-to-gas switching was most significant during 2012. We covered the MISO reports detailing their infrastructure concerns previously (see Hooking Up the Next Generation). This blog post is a review of challenges that the industry must address on both the regional and national level.

Northeast bound interstate natural gas pipeline companies are busy reconfiguring their assets to accommodate significant supply growth expected by 2017. At the same time, regional natural gas supply and distribution companies are taking advantage of the opportunities that new local production brings.

Northeast regional interstate pipeline companies are coming to terms with significant supply growth expected between now and 2017. Companies that traditionally delivered natural gas to the Northeast from outside the region are busy reconfiguring their assets.

In two previous postings in this series we examined the major infrastructure projects being developed by interstate natural gas pipelines in response to the growth of Northeast natural gas production in the Marcellus shale.  We reviewed projects developed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), and then Spectra Energy (see TGP and Spectra). This time we look at the projects being pursued by Williams Companies through it Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company (Transco) and its Master Limited Partnership (MLP) Williams Partners. 

Faced with 7 Bcf/d of new Marcellus production over the past couple of years and possibly another 10 Bcf/d of production growth coming from the Northeast region between now and 2017, the interstate pipeline companies that traditionally delivered natural gas to the Northeast from outside the region have found it necessary to completely o reconfigure their assets. In effect, gas supplies that traditionally have originated from the Gulf Coast are being displaced by Marcellus production.  The resulting pipeline projects are expanding capacity and redirecting flows to provide new shippers with competitive access to existing markets.  Today we look at the types of pipeline projects going on and then zero in on Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

The gestation period from concept to in-service for a new natural gas pipeline can take at least 3-4 years. A significant number of these projects are underway today in the Northeast US in response to dramatic increases in local production. Today we continue our series on changes in the Northeast with a look at the process required to develop pipeline infrastructure.

In our previous posting we talked about the dramatic changes in strategies, infrastructure and operations in the Northeast resulting from the successful development and growth of Marcellus natural gas production.  Some of these investments by pipelines, and shipper commitments for transportation agreements, are quite sizable and can cause a high degree of angst.  One of the factors that makes this so difficult for everyone is that the timeline for an interstate pipeline to place new capacity into service can typically take three to four years from conception to in-service.  That’s a long time in a dynamic industry and as we have seen, significant changes can take place in that long a period. Before we drill down to the strategic and 'operational aspects, it would be helpful to understand why it takes so long and what is involved in the development process to bring new pipeline capacity on stream.