Houston — Williams has placed capacity from two natural gas pipeline expansions and an NGLs pipeline project in service early as it looks to boost the flow of supplies in the US East and Midcontinent regions heading into 2021, the company said Dec. 18.
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The activity comes amid improved demand and the rollout across the US of the coronavirus vaccine, which is expected to further stimulate volumes as the economy recovers in the months ahead.
Beyond the peak winter heating season, Williams sees surging US LNG exports from the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as a positive sign for its transportation network. Pipeline flows to Mexico also have been impactful for the operator of the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line.
Following the commencement of partial service on Transco's 296 MMcf/d Southeastern Trail project in November, southbound flows toward the Gulf Coast measured at the border of Virginia/North Carolina reached a new high of 2.4 Bcf/d on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12. Since then, they have dipped back near 2.1 Bcf/d in December.
Some of this recent weakness in southbound flows may be tied to higher demand in the US Northeast, which recently hit its highest levels of the winter, thereby requiring more gas supply to be retained for regional demand.
Further, with Transco announcing in its statement that an additional 80 MMcf/d of capacity is now available as part of the Southeastern Trail expansion, flows southbound have likely showed little uptick to the boost in capacity given the stronger regional demand. This may change through the balance of December as Northeast demand dips on milder temperatures.
Leidy South is an expansion of Williams' existing Pennsylvania energy infrastructure. Some 125 MMcf/d of capacity was brought online in November, with the remaining 457 MMcf/d expected to be complete in 2021, Williams said. The expansion connects Appalachian Basin natural gas supplies with downstream markets.
Southeastern Trail, a Transco transmission expansion project that also serves demand in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern US, brought 150 MMcf/d of capacity online in November, with the additional 80 MMcf/d coming online in December. The remaining 66 MMcf/d of capacity is expected to come online in the first quarter of 2021, Williams said.
Also Dec. 18, Williams said Bluestem Pipeline, a 120,000 b/d NGLs pipeline, began service in December, two months ahead of schedule. Originating in Conway, Kan., the pipeline is designed to boost mixed NGLs supplies to its customer's pipeline at an interconnect in Kingfisher County, Okla. The pipeline is expandable to 225,000 b/d.