New Marcellus Pipelines Could Encounter Opposition

August 2011, Vol. 238 No. 8

Reuters reports that an equally vexing battle – if less controversial than hydraulic fracturing – now looms in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas region: ensuring that enough pipelines are built, quickly enough, to funnel the gas into the deep Northeast market.

Thus far, early producers have been fortunate, with ample pipeline capacity for the amount of gas flowing out of the area. But as public opinion turns increasingly hostile toward fracking, getting land rights and regulatory approvals to build the estimated 100-plus miles of new lines and procuring land for needed infrastructure becomes harder.

The challenge has not slowed investment but could soon, and could prove as great a risk to growth as state and federal reviews of fracking.

“Pipeline right of way has always been an issue for pipes and nothing has changed,” said Sam Andrus, director of North American gas market modeling with IHS-CERA. “It’s particularly difficult in highly populated areas, so trying to get through New Jersey and into Manhattan is more difficult than in West Texas.”

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