A build-out of interstate natural gas pipeline projects in 2018 will help support U.S. Gulf Coast markets, including LNG export terminals and pipeline shipments to Mexico, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
Projected pipeline capacity into the U.S. South Central region, including the Texas and Louisiana coasts, will reach nearly 19 Bcf/d by the end of 2018, the EIA said in an Aug. 10 "Today In Energy" article. The capacity demonstrates the shift in gas flows as the Gulf Coast transitions from a supply area to a market made up of gas exports, manufacturing, power generation and other uses.
The U.S. became a net natural gas exporter in 2017 for the first time in six decades with the help of two U.S. LNG export terminals, the first of which began operations in February 2016. LNG facilities scheduled to come online by the end of 2019 will add 6.1 Bcf/d of export capacity to the current U.S. capacity of 3.5 Bcf/d, the EIA said. Those projects include a fifth train at Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass terminal that is expected to enter commercial service in 2019 with an LNG production capacity of about 0.7 Bcf/d.
Three other LNG facilities that are under construction — Cheniere's Corpus Christi LNG terminal, Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG terminal and the privately held Freeport LNG terminal — have associated pipeline projects that are scheduled for completion this year. Together, these pipeline projects will provide 5.45 Bcf/d of gas transportation capacity between the interstate pipeline system and the terminals.
The government also expected natural gas shipments to Mexico by pipeline to rise in 2018 with several projects in Texas. Exports across the border have increased from 0.9 Bcf/d in 2010 to more than 4.3 Bcf/d through April, according to EIA data.
Pipeline capacity from Texas into Mexico more than tripled in that time frame, reaching 9.3 Bcf/d in 2017. EIA expected that increase in capacity to continue in 2018 with the completion of the 2.6-Bcf/d Enbridge Inc. Valley Crossing pipeline transporting Texas-produced gas to Mexico.
Of the additional 6.4 Bcf/d in U.S. Northeast pipeline capacity that is expected to come online in 2018, more than 2.8 Bcf/d will be for the Gulf region, supplied by three pipelines running through the Midwest and Southeast: Williams Cos. Inc.'s Atlantic Sunrise and TransCanada Corp.'s Rayne XPress and Gulf XPress.
Another project to the west, the first phase of Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America LLC's Gulf Coast Southbound expansion project, is scheduled to enter service in October. It will move up to 0.46 Bcf/d of gas from Illinois into South Texas and Louisiana. The pipeline will supply the Corpus Christi LNG terminal and pipelines into Mexico.