PITTSBURGH—To understand the impact of Appalachian natural gas, just look at the Spectra Energy Partners LP (NYSE: SEP) map.
The sprawling pipeline system—centered around the Texas Eastern and Algonquin systems—carries gas through the eastern U.S., north to Canada and south to Texas to move LNG into Mexico. In 2016, volumes riding the pipelines averaged about 5.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), sometimes as high as 6 Bcf/d in the southwest Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia area.
“Definitely room for growth,” Bobby Huffman, Spectra’s director of business development, told attendees at Hart Energy’s recent Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference & Exhibition. “That means more work to do for us in business development to get this to market.”
How much room? By the time the company’s myriad projects go into service, Spectra expects to be able to transport 9.5 Bcf/d out of the region in every direction. Many of those projects are greenfield, but some add on to existing capacity.
The biggest is Algonquin Incremental Expansion (AIM), a six-year project that will provide about 342 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) for power distributors in southern New England.
“The major compressor station it went through was full the first day it came on,” Huffman said. “That’s great news for the region, great news for our industry.”
AIM is not alone, but joined by Atlantic Bridge, Salem Lateral and Access Northeast in serving New England, a region that needs both electric power reliability and affordable gas. Since 2000, the market share of gas for electrical generation has increased from 15% to 50%. On some winter days, New England still pays some of the highest prices in the world for natural gas on a spot basis, he said.
Other efforts to resolve the pipeline-constrained Northeast include:
- The Bayway Lateral, PennEast Pipeline, Marcellus to Market and Greater Philadelphia Expansion Project, all focused on moving supply from the northeast Marcellus;
- Spectra’s Nexus Pipeline, designed to move Marcellus gas to Ohio, Michigan, Chicago and Ontario—areas experiencing the fallout from both the long-term decline in western Canadian supply and their own demand growth;
- Access South, along with Adair Southwest and Lebanon Extension, geared to deliver Appalachian supply to the Midwest and Southeast;
- Gulf Markets Expansion and Stratton Ridge, and both expansions of the Texas Eastern system, that will deliver to the Gulf Coast, where they are aimed at LNG export; and
- Valley Crossing Pipeline and Texas Eastern STEP, intrastate lines designed to move gas meant to satisfy Mexico’s growing electric generation needs.
“The Spectra view,” Huffman said, “is that we’re really fortunate where Texas Eastern has been located, and we’ve tried to expand and connect this supply to all compass points in North America.”
Baker Hughes reported the oil rig count fell to 663 this week, the lowest since April 2017.
Output at the largest formation, the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, is expected to rise 57,000 bbl/d to 4.73 MMbbl/d.
The decision would allow output from the Pemex and BHP Billiton project to be offloaded to tankers, instead of transporting it via pipelines to the U.S. An FPSO could be more expensive but offers greater flexibility in export destinations.