Natural gas pipelines will handle increased production in the future

Jun 26, 2015
In a press release from the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, data shows that previous and future natural gas infrastructure will be able to withstand the majority of the U.S.'s natural gas needs through the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. The report, which analysts teamed up with ICF International, a management and technology consulting firm, said data shows planned natural gas pipeline expenditures through the CPP would be no more than 7 percent than the currently planned infrastructure through the next 15 years.

"With competition from renewable energy and energy efficiency, which are also cost effective, states are likely to adopt a diverse portfolio of measures for compliance rather than rely exclusively on increased natural gas generation," Malcolm Woolf, senior vice president for Policy and Government Affairs at AEE, said in the company statement.

Through the last decade, the demand for natural gas has skyrocketed to due to the low natural gas prices. The increase in demand calls for a high-grade infrastructure to transport the resource effectively, safely and efficiently.

However, the nation is expected to see several billions of dollars go into new pipeline infrastructure to have room for the rising demand of natural gas.
"This report shows that, even if low natural gas prices lead to higher natural gas usage, pipeline expansions already planned and under way will be sufficient to handle most of the need," Woolf added. "There is no reason to see natural gas pipeline capacity as a threat to electric system reliability as a result of CPP implementation."

Majority of pipeline infrastructure already planned
Roughly 70 percent of the needed pipeline infrastructure is already planned throughout the nation. An additional infrastructure is being determined for some of the up-and-coming hot spots, such as the Marcellus Shale, located in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and the Utica Shale in Ohio.

The data from AEE explains that even with lower natural gas prices likely to exist throughout the 15 year timeline, the nation's infrastructure will still be able to handle the incoming resources. The U.S. Department of Energy explained in a report how electricity generation is increasing the demand for more natural gas. On the other hand, the need will certainly create some challenges.

Other fossil fuels can be stored on-site, while natural gas needs to be transported as soon as it's consumed, the report stated. The need for electrical generation and the demand of natural gas go hand-in-hand with the desired pipeline infrastructure.
"Under the CPP Case, there is a temporary increase in natural gas demand above the Reference Case due to the incremental shift from coal to gas," the AEE report stated. "This incremental demand increase then declines over time as additional renewable energy and demand-side resources come online."

With the small increases of demand, the switch from coal to natural gas becomes a priority as well. Ultimately, this would not affect the current state of the pipeline infrastructure.

More information on natural gas pipeline infrastructure can be found on PennEnergy's research area.