Billions needed to meet natural gas demand

PITTSBURGH – The $10 billion worth of natural gas processing infrastructure already built in the Marcellus and Utica shale region is only a fraction of what Blue Racer Midstream CEO Jack Lafield believes is needed in the coming years.

Lafield estimates $30 billion must be spent in midstream infrastructure to keep up with demand.

If he is correct, Blue Racer doubling the processing capacity at its West Virginia Natrium plant is just one expansion that companies will need to make in the next decade to keep natural gas flowing from nearby shale plays.

Lafield, who was speaking this week at the Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference and Exhibition in Pittsburgh, believes extracting the gas from the Marcellus and Utica regions will be worth the investment, largely because of cheaper transportation costs involved with getting it to major metropolitan centers along the Eastern seaboard.

Earlier this week, Lafield said Blue Racer would double the daily processing capacity of its Natrium plant by spring. The facility, which recently reopened following a Sept. 21 fire, also will be equipped to ship natural gas liquids on the Ohio River by barge.

“We are right down the heart of the rich gas fairway,” Lafield said. “In my 42 years in the industry … this is about as good as it gets.”