Billions Needed To Meet Long-Term Natural Gas Infrastructure Supply, Demands

By Rita Tubb, Managing Editor | January 2010 Vol. 65 No. 1
Billion $ in Natural Gas Pipeline, Storage, and Gathering Infrastructure, 2009-2030

A significant amount of pipeline capacity has been, or will soon be built to move natural gas out of the Mid-continent and the Northern Rockies, both to the east and the west. After 2012, most of the incremental long-haul interregional pipeline capacity developed will be related to Arctic projects. A relatively small amount of additional pipeline capacity is expected to be built out of the Rockies. Some incremental capacity will be needed into Florida.

Beyond 2012, excluding years with Arctic projects, between 1,000 and 1,500 miles of new transmission pipeline will be needed in order to serve U.S. and Canadian natural gas consumption needs through 2030. About one-half of this will be for transmission laterals that connect production, storage, power plants, and isolated demand areas. The remaining half will be split between new greenfield projects and expansions of existing pipelines.

Mainline gathering requirements
In the report, future mainline gathering requirements will be driven by the need to connect new production to the transmission system. In order to obtain annual production rates of 27 to 35 Tcf by 2030, between 15,000 and 26,000 miles of new gathering mainlines will be needed from 2009 to 2030 (Figure 4). New gathering lines are expected to be needed even in mature basins to replace retired lines or to hook up new natural gas wells. Projected incremental gathering pipeline mileage by region is based on historical mileage of gathering pipeline as a function of projected drilling activity and natural gas well completions. The Southwest region is the center of significant shale gas production development, and is expected to be the region with the most new gathering pipeline miles. Relative to the onshore, more gathering pipeline is needed to connect offshore production, because the vast majority of supply must reach the onshore before it can be processed. Consequently, significant amounts of gathering pipeline are projected for the offshore even though it is not a high production growth area.

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U.S. Gathering Pipeline Mileage by Diameter, 2007
Pipeline Diameter Offshore Onshore Total
4 inches or less 157 4,422 4,579
4 to 10 inches 1,020 5,690 6,711
11 to 20 inches 4,533 1,803 6,336
21 to 28 inches 822 296 1,118
Over 28 inches 563 207 770
Total 7,095 12,475 19,570
Average Diameter 16 7
Source: U.S. Transportation Safety Administration