U.S. Exports Grow as Steady Supply of Gas is Piped to Mexico and Canada
The natural gas glut that’s straining drillers is creating a bonanza for pipeline operators, spurring the biggest increase in exports to Mexico and Canada since the 1970s.
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP), the biggest U.S. pipeline company, and its rivals are planning to add 2.4 billion cubic feet a day of export capacity within three years, or enough gas to heat 32,000 U.S. homes. That’s a 58 percent increase on this year’s total, which in turn was up 34 percent from 2011.
“It’s here, and it’s now, and we don’t have to wait,” said Bill Maloney, executive vice president for North American development at Statoil ASA, which plans to ship gas fromPennsylvaniato Canada this year.As politicians debate the benefits of liquefied natural gas exports, which are carried in tankers, the pipeline industry is building lines to Canada and Mexico more quickly and cheaply, investing less than $2 billion for all six projects. The only fully permitted LNG export plant planned for the lower-48 states, byCheniere Energy Inc. (LNG), won’t begin running until 2015 or 2016 and is budgeted at $5.6 billion for its first phase.
Mexican and Canadian demand is a bright spot for an industry that has underperformed in stock markets during the first three quarters of this year. The 10-member Bloomberg Natural Gas Pipeline & Storage Partnerships (BIPIPONC) index lost 4.5 percent in the period. The Standard & Poors 500 Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Index rose 2.2 percent, well below the over Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 13 percent gain.