More Pipe, More Trains: The Oil Production Boom in North America Requires It

Monday, September 26, 2011

It merely takes an industry pipeline conference to make demonstrably clear the United States' reversal of fortune as a hydrocarbon producer.

The Platts sixth annual Pipeline Development and Expansion Conference in Houston wrapped up last week, and the two days of presentations revealed a largely uniform message: We're building pipeline infrastructure as fast and vast as we can, and often it's still not enough to handle the burgeoning streams of crude, NGLs and natural gas.
It's a stark difference from just a couple years ago when total US crude production was entering its third decade of decline, giving Peak Oil advocates traction, and creating a narrative that the fossil-fuels industry was "left for dead."

Shale has changed everything.

So great is the turnaround that combined crude production from the United States and Canada is expected to exceed the peak production of the early 1970s and to keep the Cushing storage hub oversupplied through at least 2016, says Bentek Energy's Rusty Braziel. (Bentek is a division of Platts.)

And that's just crude. NGL production, as well as natural gas, from shale is "absolutely off the scale." Thus this need for pipelines, and related infrastructure, resulted in urgent phrases from the conference such as "scrambling to keep up" and "unexpected demand on our system" and "considerable growth on the horizon."

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