Natural gas will spark 'massive' economic opportunity

Al Monaco touts fuel's future during Houston energy conference

It’s been hailed far and wide as the natural gas revolution.

Al Monaco sees it as more of a natural gas reverberation.

The president and CEO of Enbridge Inc. recently touted the future of natural gas – and its exceptional potential to fuel a growing share of the world’s energy demand – during the 2015 IHS CERAWeek Energy Conference in Houston.

“For good reason, we’re mesmerized by the impressive gas production outlook,” Mr. Monaco told an April 22 panel discussion entitled Rediscovering Gas. “But in my view, we’re underplaying the magnitude and role that natural gas will play on the downstream side, and the massive spinoffs and opportunities that will come from it.”

In the past 20 years, Enbridge has made a strategic push into the natural gas market:

  • We are now a major player on the Texas natural gas gathering, processing, and transmission scene, transporting about 15 per cent of natural gas production in the Lone Star State;
  • We’re one of the largest gas transporters in the Gulf of Mexico, handling about 35 per cent of total offshore gas production and 45 per cent of deepwater gas production;
  • Our asset base includes NGL extraction and fractionation facilities in the U.S. Gulf Coast; and
  • We also own one of North America’s largest natural gas utilities, Enbridge Gas Distribution, with more than two million customers in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and New York State.

And while our $44-bilion growth capital program is based largely on crude oil and liquids pipeline infrastructure over the next few years, “we see natural gas as a key to the next generation of Enbridge’s growth,” Mr. Monaco told delegates at CERAWeek, an influential international gathering of energy industry leaders.

Mr. Monaco noted the clear advantages of natural gas, including:

  • Its abundance, cost-effectiveness, and profile as a clean-burning energy source;
  • Its well-developed storage and processing infrastructure,
  • Its ability to meet power-generation demands; and
  • Its load-balancing capabilities for renewable power generation.

He also pointed out that technological efficiencies have recently answered questions surrounding the price stability and competitiveness of natural gas. That’s translating into more confidence in large capital investment decisions, and driving an industrial renaissance.

North America has a global competitive advantage in energy, but to fully realize our massive gas supply growth, we need infrastructure to keep up with North American gas development – and, more importantly, get North America connected to the global gas market.

That’s creating tremendous opportunity for midstream companies like Enbridge.

Between 2014 and 2020, IHS Global Inc. estimates that more than $80 billion, on average, will be invested annually in U.S. midstream and downstream infrastructure. The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), meanwhile, has estimated that Canada will need more than $65 billion worth of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), and liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure through 2035.

“It’s the competitiveness and stability of natural gas that are driving these changes . . . driving an industrial renaissance in North America,” he said.

Mr. Monaco’s full speech is available online at