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

The Enbridge official said, “What has happened in the last three to five years is amazing and it is an incredible time to be in this business. The fundamentals between supply and demand are charting new territory and creating a whole new venue for infrastructure demands.

“Who would have ever dreamed that we would be building two-way pipelines across the country? Who would have ever dreamed that we would have nearly one million barrels hauled on crude oil rail cars to different markets?”

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Turning to mainline expansion projects, he mentioned the Upper Clipper and Southern Access projects. “These projects came online in 2008 and we are already expanding their capacity to 570,000 bpd and 560,000 bpd, respectively.”

In discussing the Eastern Access, PADD II, he said some of the projects currently working include Line 5, a light, sweet line that goes from Superior, WI into the Sarnia Upper Great Lakes region that feeds expansions into Line 9, which goes from Sarnia to Montreal.

Enbridge is also working with the Energy Transfer Group on a project to convert a natural gas line to crude service that will provide more supply to the Eastern U.S. Coast, increase capacity into Montreal and Quebec and provide an initiative to feed the East Coast refineries.

Market drivers
Also in the session, Mark Bridgers, principal, Continuum Advisory Group, gave his perspective on changes pipeline contractors and engineers face in the near-term.

To put this in perspective, he said, “The pipeline and energy sector is operating in a bubble that
is protected from what is going on in the rest of the U.S.

“There is 8 percent unemployment outside of the pipeline and energy industry today. States, excluding Texas, North Dakota and a handful of others, have significant budget troubles. The political process is at a logjam and we’re getting no long-term legislation.”

For this reason, he warned, although the shale oil and gas market has been one of the major job creation engines since 2009, regulations are being proposed to try and choke that off.
Nevertheless, he expects domestic oil and gas to continue to create jobs, making the pipeline and energy sectors the most attractive in the entire U.S. economy.

Looking at the market drivers that are impacting pipeline activity, he said, “Replacement activity is being almost entirely driven by aging infrastructure and regulatory requirements.”