Most of North America has been awash in a frigid wave of cold weather this winter thanks to this year’s new vogue meteorological term, the “Polar Vortex.” Here, in Northeast Ohio, at the North American Oil & Gas Pipelines headquarters, we’ve been seeing heavy snows and experiencing record lows. A few weeks ago, I had to change a dead battery in my car in minus 30 F wind chill.
I’m still not warmed up yet.
I suppose that’s a good thing for the oil and gas sector, as those of us in a deep freeze turn up our thermostats. There’s no doubt that this winter has caused an increase in demand for natural gas and heating oil.
Thankfully, we’re halfway through the coldest season, and we can look ahead to the summer construction season with hopeful eyes. There’s already strong evidence in favor of what we learned through last month’s round table discussion about the upward trend expected in new pipeline construction in 2014 and beyond.
The first installment of our regional, quarterly pipeline report shows some major projects being developed in Canada. The continued delay of the Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t seem to be affecting Canadian companies from proposing new infrastructure to get crude oil from the Alberta oil sands to markets from coast to coast.
There also seems to be high hopes for ancillary work related to pipelines, such as right of way clearing and maintenance work and corrosion control. As more pipelines are designed and built, the more these services will be required.
A panel of experts from NACE International told us that the corrosion control industry is “very strong, both domestically and internationally, possibly the strongest it’s ever been.” The increase in oil and gas production in North America is drawing in experienced corrosion professionals from other industry sectors.
Likewise, right of way clearing contractors are also seeing an influx of business related to expanding domestic oil and gas resources.
“With the combination of increased domestic oil and gas reserves and new drilling technologies in both Canada and the United States, the amount of right of way work is increasing every year,” says James Farquhar, district manager for forestry equipment manufacturer Tigercat. New pipelines are needed to carry products from new wells, and in some cases current infrastructure needs to be expanded to handle increased volumes. As production increases, so does the need for right of way clearing and maintenance activities, he says.
Energy demand is on the rise, and hopefully so is the temperature. As we look forward to the spring thaw, we can look forward to seeing pipeliners at work on the right of way, building new infrastructure to bring oil and gas to market.