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The U.S. Needs More Natural Gas Pipelines To Avoid Power Outages

U.S. natural gas supply is being jeopardized by a shortage of pipelines, an industry trade group has warned.

The warning follows a similar one issued by the CEO of EQT, the largest gas producer in the country.

It also follows a report authored by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that warned steps needed to be taken by legislators to ensure the reliable supply of natural gas to power generators.

The report by FERC and NERC followed the devastation wrought on parts of the United States by Storm Elliott last winter.

Gas companies had "used all possible flexibility and storage withdrawals to deliver as much natural gas through the system as possible," the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America said, as quoted by Reuters.

However, lower gas production had caused lower flows of gas while demand surged amid the storm, the INGAA also explained. This discrepancy between demand and supply reduces the pressure in gas pipelines, threatening the network with a system collapse, the industry body noted.

While the report did not mention the reason for lower natural gas production, EQT’s Toby Rice told the FT recently that production growth is being constrained by a lack of sufficient pipeline capacity to take the higher output to consumers.

"The United States needs more natural gas pipeline capacity to maintain a resilient system that affords homes and the power grid access to multiple sources of this critical fuel," the INGAA said.

Earlier this month, in its outlook for this winter, NERC warned that two-thirds of the United States faced the risk of blackouts this winter because of the absence of adequate gas supply infrastructure.

The agency also said it would be a challenge to forecast the amount of electricity that will be produced during the coldest months because of the substantial growth in intermittent wind and solar generation capacity.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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