The U.S. oil and gas industry is faced with a dilemma: Low oil prices are forcing it to pull back investment in production, but its success requires it to spend hundreds of billions in new infrastructure to get its products to market, according to a new industry report.
The United States and Canada will require $546 billion over the next two decades in midstream natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids infrastructure investment, a study by ICF International released Tuesday shows.
The study, "North American Midstream Infrastructure through 2035: Leaning into the Headwinds," was conducted on behalf of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation. The report updates a 2014 infrastructure report to reflect the dynamic changes in natural gas and the crude oil industries in recent years, especially the effect of low prices on the industry's ability to remain competitive.
"We saw a need to re-examine infrastructure needs in light of significantly lower commodity prices," said foundation President Don Santa. He said that while exploration and production "activity may dip temporarily because of lower prices, we still will need significant capital investment, particularly in natural gas midstream infrastructure."
Most of the new infrastructure needs come from the natural gas sector, which makes up more than 60 percent of the needs identified in the report. Total investments of between $290 billion and $376 billion will be required over the next 21 years.
Natural gas infrastructure includes gathering and transmission pipelines, compressors, laterals, gas-lease equipment, processing, gas storage and liquified natural gas export facilities.