CERAWEEK: Pipelines Needed for U.S. Natural Gas Export Demand Growth

(Reuters) — U.S. domestic consumption of natural gas will peak around 2030 but rising pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports should keep demand for the fuel growing through 2050, Matthew Palmer, senior director at IHS Markit, said.

Moving that gas from the states where it is produced to places where it can be consumed or exported, however, will become increasingly challenging, Palmer said at IHS Markit's CERAWeek conference.

He said IHS Markit does not expect any big new interstate gas pipes to be built after the $5.8 billion-$6.0 billion Mountain Valley pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia enters service, expected earliest by the end of the year.

"The challenges in the court system and the expense of building these infrastructure projects have made them very difficult to proceed with," Palmer said.

Mountain Valley is one of several U.S. oil and gas pipelines delayed in recent years by regulatory and legal fights with states and environmental groups that found problems with permits issued by the Trump administration.

"If we don't create the right infrastructure across the United States, we're basically telling the world that they can't have access to our natural gas," Octávio Simões, chief executive of U.S. liquefied natural gas company Tellurian Inc said on a CERAWeek panel.

"People need energy now and the only way to lower the global carbon footprint is with gas," Simões said, noting the United States lowered its carbon emissions when the power sector started burning more low-cost gas and less coal.

However, investor focus on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues is making it more difficult to finance new pipelines in North America, midstream industry executives also said at the conference.

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