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.
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.
But the exploration companies need to find takers for the gas, and Bentek analysts say more pipeline capacity is needed if the Marcellus Shale gas is going to ease price spikes at important New York City and Boston-area hubs during the coldest winter stretches.
Where the gas is already flowing into interstate pipelines, largely in southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania, it is displacing pricier gas from more distant sources including Canada, the Gulf Coast, Rocky Mountains or terminals that accept liquid natural gas shipments from overseas, Bentek analysts said.
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