RELENTLESS. That's the word consultant Benjamin Schlesinger uses to describe the growing share of North American markets claimed by natural gas produced in the U.S. Rocky Mountain region, the San Juan basin and western Canada.
"Western gas has climbed steadily, from 21 percent of North American gas production in 1975, to 33 percent in 1995," says Schlesinger, president of Benjamin Schlesinger & Associates Inc., Bethesda, Md. "It looks like that figure will reach 35 percent in the next few years. And that doesn't include new supplies from Sable Island [off the coast of Newfoundland]."
A look at the map shows some of the major proposed pipeline projects, with many designed to move Canadian gas to the Chicago hub and points east. Other projects vie to bring gas from the Sable Island into New England.
In seeking U.S. certification, Independence Pipeline sponsors claimed: "Natural gas will serve as the ideal fuel for industrial expansion and power generation in an area that must balance these energy needs with new environmental regulations."
With electricity, however, the news is less ebullient. An ice storm last winter knocked Hydro Quebec on its heels. And in Ontario, well, electricity appears mired in uncertainty (em caught between a restructuring white paper and a nuclear shutdown.
Natural Gas: 10 New Pipes
A year ago, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said it was tracking about 88 pipeline projects at various stages of development in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.