Shale Plays Remain Key To Nation’s Economy, Jobs And Energy Security

By Rita Tubb, Executive Editor, and Kate Permenter, Pipeline Editor | June 2013, Vol. 68, No. 6

“When it comes to natural gas and natural gas pipelines, gridlock in Washington is a good thing,” Landry said. “The less Congress can do to mess up the situation for gas – since gas is winning on the environmental front – the better. If Congress, or the administration, steps in and does things that impinge upon the ability to find and development new markets, it could mean problems.”

She also expressed concern regarding PHMSA’s efforts to ensure that grandfathered pipelines (built before 1970) are certifiable and can be safely operated.

Landry noted that it is not known what PHMSA will be asking the pipelines to do to prove these older pipelines are certifiable and safe. “It could mean more inline inspection or hydrostatic testing, which could turn out to be a big issue,” she said.

Other hot button issues she discussed included LNG exports and cyber security.

Keynote comments
Keynote luncheon speaker Nick Stavropoulos, executive vice president of gas operations, PG&E Corporation, started by telling attendees the company was making real progress to make the company’s natural gas system the safest in the nation following the 2010 pipeline accident in San Bruno. Then he backed up that bold statement with statistics about accomplishments in safety-related areas over the past year. Including the fact that PG&E has satisfied seven of the 12 National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations as a result of its investigation into the accident in San Bruno.

Of the five remaining safety recommendations, the NTSB considers PG&E’s progress “open,” which means acceptable pending completion. PG&E expects to complete action on three more recommendations by year-end, including revisions and improvements to its integrity management program.

"Our employees continue to work hard every day to make our natural gas system the safest in the nation," said Stavropoulos. "We are making real progress that can be seen and felt by our customers, employees and regulators. We still have work to do to achieve our ambitious goal, but the change that is under way is real and measurable."

A major focus of the Pipeline Construction Outlook session was on new and planned projects. Kelly Wilkins, senior manager, Enbridge Business Development, told attendees his company had spent over $20 billion since 2007, expanding and extending its pipeline systems across North American.

He also discussed the company’s $35 billion worth of projects to re-pipe, re-connect and expand domestic supply to U.S. and Canadian markets.