Enbridge upgrading pipelines to move more shale gas to the U.S. Northeast

By Sergio Chapa on 4/9/2021

(Bloomberg) --Enbridge Inc. is moving forward with upgrades to its pipeline network serving the northeastern U.S. to ship more shale gas from the prolific Appalachian Basin as opposition to new conduits mounts in the region.

The Canadian company’s plan includes a connection to a UGI Utilities facility in Pennsylvania and compression boosts that will allow it to move an additional 18 million cubic feet per day along its Texas Eastern system. In a second phase, similar links will be built for other customers in the Northeast.

Enbridge CEO Al Monaco
Enbridge CEO Al Monaco

“Boosting compression is the first line of attack,” Enbridge Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco told Bloomberg in an interview this week. “We’ve got some opportunities on Texas Eastern, which certainly supports the U.S. Northeast directly.”

The incremental approach comes at a time when Appalachia’s growth potential is being capped by limited gas-shipping capacity after major pipeline projects got stalled by environmental opposition. Several vessels brought liquefied natural gas to Boston this winter because of insufficient ability to transport the heating fuel from shale fields.

“I worry about the U.S. Northeast,” Monaco said. “We’ve seen this story play out in Texas and California. If you oppose natural gas, just look at what happened in those states. You’ve seen rate spikes.”

Appalachian shale fields account for more than a third of the 90 billion cubic feet of natural gas produced per day in the continental U.S.

The added capacity from Calgary-based Enbridge’s $28 million initial phase of the upgrades to Texas Eastern is a fraction of the system’s more than 11 billion cubic feet of capacity. The massive network includes a leg that brings gas from the U.S. Gulf Coast to New Jersey, another that exports the fuel to Mexico and one that supplies Appalachian gas to Boston.

Delays and the “increasing cost of uncertainty” caused Dominion Energy Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. to cancel their Atlantic Coast Pipeline last year. The project would have moved 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day from West Virginia to potential customers in Virginia and North Carolina.

The EQM Midstream Partners-led Mountain Valley Pipeline project is seeking to move 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from West Virginia to southern Virginia but faces regulatory and permitting delays.

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