PITTSBURGH, Pa. — If you think the natural gas boom has taken off in the past year, economists and industry officials say it is only the beginning. That’s was the general consensus at the 2014 Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference held in Pittsburgh Jan. 29-30. Estimates for new pipelines, gathering lines, compressors, fractionators (cracker plants) and other systems to separate the gas in Ohio’s Utica shale range from $12 billion to $15 billion per year through 2020. The economists said if companies are willing to invest that kind of money, it means there is lots of gas under the ground.
Rick DeCeasar, of the Willbros, Group, said more infrastructure is needed to get the gas from the wells to the customers. However, different plants are needed so that the gases and natural gas liquids can be separated. DeCeasar said infrastructure construction costs in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio are estimated between $75-87 billion a year
Randy Crawford, of EQT Corp. said the weather and terrain are the two main challenges in building pipelines in the Marcellus and Utica regions, but he expects 50 percent of the U.S. natural gas production growth to come from the region by 2020.
Still need demand
Peter Terranova, vice president for Midstream Assets and Services for UGI Energy Services Inc., said the gas production in the northeastern United States has doubled since 2012. Terranova said there needs to be a bigger demand in order for the market to sustain a profitable price, and said the United States needs to become a net exporter by 2016. He said the Northeast will supply gas to the other regions of the United States 80 percent of the time by 2017. Terranova said it is vital that Marcellus and Utica producers seek liquid markets outside the region in order for the gas to stay profitable.
Bradley Olsen, of Tudor, Pickering, Holt and Co., said the production in the Marcellus and Utica is outpacing what analysts thought possible