While a new report forecasts spending on North American pipelines and midstream infrastructure will begin declining after next year, at least one engineering firm sees significant near-term activity, partly on higher oil prices.“We’re seeing activity of all types—crude, natural gas and refined products,” says Ed Wiegele, president of TRC’s oil and gas sector. “2019 is really stacking up to be a very strong year for pipeline construction.”
Supply and demand for oil and natural gas is increasing, driving the need for new pipelines out of areas such as the Permian, Marcellus and Utica basins, according to Wiegele. Stable oil and natural gas prices give companies confidence to enter into long-term supply contracts that enable pipeline projects to move ahead, he says.
A June 18 report prepared for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) expects spending on oil and natural gas midstream facilities to peak next year at about $105 billion and to decline to about $44 billion a year on average through 2035, down from about $63 billion per year over the last five years. Investments on natural gas infrastructure, including liquefied natural gas export facilities, will total $417 billion over the next 17 years, followed by oil infrastructure at $321 billion and natural gas liquids at $53 billion, the report says.
The pace of oil, natural gas and NGL transmission pipeline additions is expected to slow to about 2,300 miles a year in the next 17 years, down from 6,900 miles annually in the last five years. In the same period, gathering and processing pipeline additions are forecast to average 7,700 miles annually, down from 11,900 miles, according to the report. INGAA expects the Southwest, including Texas, to account for about a quarter of overall midstream investments. The report, prepared by consulting firm ICF, warns that regulatory delays and legal challenges pose “significant downside risk.”