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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Judging from the increasing amount of space dedicated to new projects in each of last four issues, the pipeline industry is thriving so far this summer construction season. Our Project Roundup section has grown from just under two pages in April to four this month.

This section is routinely our most popular page online at napipelines.com, and one that gets the most compliments from readers. Thanks to our friends at the Pipe Line Contractors Association and from reader submissions, we have been able to provide you with important information about the work going on in the field. It also provides an anecdotal metric to gauge the industry’s health.

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Couple these project announcements with the news that several large-scale pipelines have gained approval, and it appears that everything is indeed hunky-dory in the world of oil and gas transportation.

The Canadian National Energy Board has approved the Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project, and TransCanada plans to move ahead with its Merrick Mainline Pipeline, marking two — count ‘em, one-two — major pipelines being built to expand export capacity from British Columbia to meet growing demand in Asia.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has granted a permit to allow the 616-mile Sandpiper Pipeline to move ahead. The project will transport Bakken crude to refineries near Superior, Wisconsin, and in eastern Canada to offset imports from overseas.

Tallgrass Energy just announced that the Rockies Express pipeline has started shipping natural gas westward. We featured the pipeline’s revival in our March issue. The pipeline was originally built to bring natural gas from the West to the high demand areas in the Midwest and Northeast, but then the shale boom hit and production skyrocketed in the Marcellus region. Now Tallgrass is shipping natural gas both ways on the pipeline to reach underserved markets in the
Midcontinent.

Heck, there was even a measure of hope for that other pipeline project that you may have heard about. I forget the name, but it’s been in a holding pattern since before the previous World Cup when soccer was last popular in the
United States.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 238-173 on June 24 to eliminate the need for oil and gas pipelines crossing international borders to get a Presidential Permit. The House bill picked up 17 more votes from Democrats, showing an increased trend toward bipartisan support of the long-delayed project, though the White House has already threatened to veto the bill. Similar legislation made it through the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee with bipartisan support, but a full vote on the bill was later blocked.

That still counts as progress, right? Can the project move ahead based on goal differential like the U.S. Men’s National Team did from the so-called “Group of Death”? (Let’s not mention the subsequent loss to the Belgium team.)
Regardless of the verdict regarding the most politicized pipeline in North American history, it’s clear that oil and gas infrastructure construction is on the rise. Companies continue to find ways to expand capacity to meet ever-growing demand.

Brad Kramer
Managing Editor
bkramer@benjaminmedia.com
Twitter: @NAOGP1

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