Natural Gas Development is Needed for a Post-Pandemic Future

The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung published an op-ed from GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens highlighting the importance of natural gas infrastructure development in the Permian Basin and throughout Texas. Stevens explains how the coronavirus pandemic has had a tough economic impact on the American oil and gas industry, but emphasizes that doesn’t mean we can take a step back on infrastructure investment:

“As drilling and production slowly returns to pre-COVID levels, it is important that the state’s infrastructure network is ready in place to transport product to consumer markets, specifically, natural gas that is produced as a byproduct of oil drilling. For many years, the region has lacked the infrastructure necessary to transport record natural gas production from the Permian to consumers and export terminals along the Gulf Coast.

As a result of this pipeline shortage, $750 million worth of natural gas was flared – or burned off – in 2018. That is three-quarters of a billion dollars’ worth of fuel that could have bolstered both our state and nation’s economy, advanced our energy security, helped lower energy costs, and provided a more environmentally-friendly alternative to other fuel sources.”

It is important that we work to maintain and support pipeline networks in the Permian Basin. Stevens acknowledges that if we do not, flaring will continue to rise. Pipelines are a safe and environmentally-friendly solution to transporting natural gas that would instead be flared. In addition to the environmental and safety benefits, Stevens explains how new projects in the Permian can support the economy:

“Fortunately, developers are moving forward on new natural gas infrastructure investment in the Permian, including projects like the Permian Highway, Gulf Coast Express, and Whistler pipelines. These pipelines will provide much-needed capacity to transport natural gas out of the Permian, thereby reducing flaring rates and helping get fuel safely and efficiently to market.

In addition, these projects bring a welcomed economic boost in the midst of a COVID-induced downturn, providing thousands of family-sustaining jobs, new streams of tax revenue for Texas and its municipalities, as well as new economic opportunities for the communities along their routes. Kinder Morgan’s $2 billion Permian Highway Pipeline project alone is supporting 2,500 construction jobs and is expected to generate more than $40 million in state and local tax revenues.”

These important projects are needed in hurling the Lone Star economy forward. The impacts of the coronavirus have been debilitating for a number of industries – we cannot continue to allow unnecessary legal challenges and regulatory barriers to risk critical energy development:

“But despite the significant environmental, economic, and energy security benefits of investing in infrastructure in the Permian, activists have targeted critical energy infrastructure development like the Permian Highway project. From legal challenges and complaints to the Texas Railroad Commission to following pipeline workers and holding stakeouts at construction sites, project opponents have made it clear they are willing to push the envelope to halt its development. Activists are even coordinating with national green groups like the Sierra Club, who recently filed a lawsuit to challenge the pipeline’s construction.”

Projects like the Permian Highway Pipeline are crucial in offsetting flaring, transporting natural gas to consumer markets, and bringing much-needed economic revenue to Texas. Safe, efficient transit of energy output must be a top priority. Anti-energy rhetoric cannot continue to hinder energy growth that is key to our nation’s prosperity. Supporting energy infrastructure in the Permian is key to putting jobs back on the market and ensuring energy growth will be successful as demand resumes to pre-COVID levels.