The upsurge in drilling for oil and gas in the United States, spurred by the development of the shale industry over the past decade or so, has led to a dramatic increase in supply of both of these commodities. Shale gas and oil discoveries in places such as the Bakken formation in North Dakota and the Appalachian Basin has sparked plans for the construction of a number of new and expanded pipelines to help meet the burgeoning need to move these fuels to where they are needed most.
These projects tend to be multi-year in length and based on long term supply and demand factors. As a result, the plunge in price for commodities of all sorts, and oil and natural gas in particular, over the past year has not as yet led to a rash of project cancellations. If the slump continues, however, the chance exists that it could call into question the further development of proposed projects, and potentially affect the completion of already approved ones.
Another cause for concern for developers of midstream projects is the controversy over potential environmental impacts. While pipelines are the most efficient and arguably the environmentally safest way to move petroleum products, construction has been slowed or prevented altogether in some cases due to concerns about their effect on the environment.
The most notable example of this phenomenon is the rejection of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude from the Northern U.S. and Canada for processing in refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
The full article, along with all maps and graphs, is available in Issue 2 of Shale Gas International Magazine and can be found on page 34.