New Interstate Pipelines Mean Thousands of Jobs in PA

Hundreds of miles of new interstate gas pipelines are on the way in Pennsylvania, and new pipeline construction is providing thousands of jobs in the state. The volume of Marcellus gas flowing from the Marcellus is projected to rise from a current 3 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day to 7 or 8 bcf per day in the next five years, which means more large interstate pipelines are required to get the gas to market.

Pennsylvania and the Marcellus Shale natural gas reservoir are emerging as a key focus of natural gas pipeline operators, as the increasing gas flow spurs projects to bring it to customers in the northeastern United States and possibly Canada.

More than half of the interstate natural-gas pipeline projects proposed to federal energy regulators since the beginning of 2010 involve Pennsylvania — at a cost estimated at more than $2 billion.

That means hundreds of new miles of pipeline as part of a larger, traditional cross-country network that already extends through Pennsylvania and its neighboring states, as well as dozens of new or upgraded compression stations to force more gas through the buried pipes.

The projects are already employing thousands of contract workers and bringing work to steel mills, welders, gravel quarries and landscapers…

Combined, more than a dozen projects proposed or already under construction would have the capacity to move an additional 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day — one-third of what analysts for Colorado-based Bentek Energy say is the average daily demand in the northeastern United States.

"A lot of those projects are really designed to move the new volumes out of the Marcellus to your more traditional, historic pipelines that have served the Northeast markets for the last 30 or 40 years," said Bentek’s manager of energy analysis, Anthony Scott.

For now, Bentek said about 3 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day of gas is flowing from the Marcellus Shale, the nation’s largest-known natural gas reservoir. Production is rising quickly as crews busily drill more wells, and the flow should easily reach 7 bcf or 8 bcf per day in the next five years, Scott said.

One of the largest projects, a $700 million expansion of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s 300 pipeline, is already under construction, employing 2,100 surveyors, inspectors and construction workers, according to the company. It received federal approval last year to lay approximately 127 miles of 30-inch pipeline — along the existing 300 pipeline where possible — through northern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey, as well as the installation of two new compressor stations and upgrades of seven others.*

*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Aug 15, 2011) – Big, new pipelines on tap for state