Natural gas pipeline capacity to U.S. South Central region increases
The region has shifted from being a source of natural gas supply to a source of growing demand, reversing the historical flows of natural gas in the Lower 48 states. Natural gas pipeline projects scheduled to come online in 2018 will bring additional supply to the Gulf Coast and support growing export markets.
Of the additional 6.4 Bcf/d of Northeast capacity planned to come online in 2018, more than 2.8 Bcf/d reaches the South Central region directly through three projects that transport natural gas through the Midwest and Southeast: Rayne Xpress, Gulf Xpress, and Atlantic Sunrise.
Further west, Natural Gas Pipeline of America’s Gulf Coast Southbound Phase 1 is scheduled to enter service in October 2018.
This pipeline will transport up to 0.46 Bcf/d of natural gas from Illinois into south Texas and Louisiana, where it will supply the Corpus Christi LNG export facility and pipelines into Mexico.
The LNG export facilities scheduled to come online in 2018 and 2019 represent an additional 6.1 Bcf/d of LNG export capacity, requiring infrastructure to connect them to the interstate pipeline network and deliver large volumes of natural gas to the liquefaction terminals.
The United States currently has two operational LNG export facilities, which have a combined export capacity of 3.5 Bcf/d: Sabine Pass Trains 1-4 (2.8 Bcf/d) and Cove Point (0.8 Bcf/d).
In addition to Train 5 at Sabine Pass, four new LNG export facilities are under construction, three of which are located in the South Central region. All three of these facilities have associated pipeline projects that are scheduled to be completed this year.
EIA expects exports of natural gas to Mexico by pipeline to rise in 2018 as several projects within Texas are completed. U.S. natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico have grown from 0.9 Bcf/d in 2010 to more than 4.3 Bcf/d through April 2018.
Over this timeframe, pipeline capacity from Texas into Mexico has more than tripled, reaching 9.3 Bcf/d in 2017. This growth is likely to continue in 2018 with the completion of the 2.6 Bcf/d Valley Crossing Pipeline. ■