Northeast Pipelines Gone Wild! Making Sense of it All

gone wildLately it seems like a week doesn’t go by that a new pipeline project is announced. No one should be surprised, but of course we all are. It only makes sense: drillers have sunk a lot of holes in the Marcellus and Utica, and now all of that gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) needs a way to get to market. The northeast alone can’t handle all of the gas and NGLs being produced. Yes, the ethane cracker plants will help with regards to ethane–but there’s still way more ethane that even the planned three cracker plants can handle. And way more methane (natural gas) than the northeast can absorb. How do you get it to market? With pipelines. The first thing pipeline operators do is pick the “low hanging fruit”–in this case reversing pipelines and using loops to increase capacity and change the direction of the flows. But according to the midstream companies themselves, the low hanging fruit is about all picked. Now it’s on to the higher hanging fruit–so-called “greenfield” pipelines that cut through “virgin” land. Below we have a very interesting quote about decisions that will soon be made impacting the rest of this decade, along with a very useful chart of pipeline projects…

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