Domestic natural gas production: boom or bust?
posted at 6:01 pm on March 31, 2014 by Bruce McQuain
All the indicators are it should be a big “boom” for the US, providing both jobs and investment:
Companies will need to invest $641 billion over the next two decades in pipelines, pumps and other infrastructure to keep up with the gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids flowing from U.S. fields, according to a study released Tuesday.
The analysis, prepared by ICF International for two natural gas advocacy groups, predicts that $30 billion worth of new midstream infrastructure will be needed each year through 2035 — essentially triple the $10 billion in average annual investments over the past decade.
“We’re in a heavy growth period right now, said Kevin Petak, an economist with ICF who authored the study. “The next six years appears to be a pretty heavy period for expenditure and investment.”
Almost half of the projected spending — $14.2 billion per year — will be needed to accommodate new gas supplies and connect new shale plays with existing infrastructure and yet-to-be-built facilities, according to the report. Some 35,000 miles of new transmission pipelines will be needed, along with 303,000 miles of gas gathering lines, the study found.
“Significant development of natural gas infrastructure (is projected) to accommodate the rapidly growing gas supplies from shale,” the report said. “Much new gas gathering and pipeline infrastructure will be needed well into the future.”
Of course this is all dependent on the usual approvals in the face of a determined “green” minority who was for natural gas before they were against it. A good indicator of what we’re likely to see in the next few years is found in the “green” opposition to the expansion of the Cove Point LNG terminal:
Cove Point is emerging as a major test of environmentalists’ ability to block — or seriously slow — midstream energy infrastructure projects in a bid to stop the oil and gas production happening upstream as well as the burning of those fossil fuels downstream.
“There clearly is a view from certain people that increased U.S. energy production is not a good thing and … there’s only so much carbon we can put in the atmosphere,” said Jason Bordoff, a former White House adviser who now heads Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “The lesson they take from that is we have to do everything we can to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”
Cove Point is “the Keystone fight of the east”, one activist claimed, referring to the attempts to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. If so, and if indicative of the future, then a huge and promising economic boom will be all but still born. And, as long as this administration is in power, you can expect it to be complicit in that still birth.