The shale gas revolution in the United States has radically changed the country's energy outlook and can provide for energy independence, new jobs and a manufacturing renaissance. However, none of this will occur until the country addresses the significant pipeline infrastructure gap that exists, according to a new report from global law firm White & Case LLP.
"The United States has a golden opportunity to become a powerhouse in global energy markets, to truly achieve full energy independence and to use natural gas to power our economy," said White & Case partner Daniel Hagan. "But that path is far from assured without a major expansion of the long-distance pipeline network."
The report examines why the US currently lacks the capacity to transport all its available oil and gas to users and looks at the reasons why investors have been slow to support the development of additional pipeline capacity.
The report explores four approaches that could hasten development of critical infrastructure, including:
Incentivizing investment. Pipeline investment and financing must be made more attractive. One way to do this is to add revenue streams from pipeline systems. There is pending legislation before Congress around this issue.
Breaking the bottleneck in liquefied natural gas (LNG) export authorizations. Tapping into world demand for LNG is critical to spurring investment in pipeline infrastructure.
Forging a solid partnership between industry and regulators. The United States needs a national energy strategy to kick-start an ambitious pipeline expansion program.
Improving gas-electric coordination. Improve coordination among gas and electric power companies.
In addition, the report offers two case studies. The first case study examines how the Rockies Express Pipeline is facing difficulties inherent in repurposing existing infrastructure to take advantage of new US shale gas resources and what the company is doing to overcome those difficulties. The second case study reviews how North Dakota is searching for solutions to wasteful gas flaring, a bi-product of shale gas.
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