DOE focuses on Appalachia in its updated 2018 NGL primer

By Patrick C. Miller | July 03, 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has published the 2018 Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) primer, highlighting the resource’s potential and focusing on the Appalachian region. 

The publication is an update of the 2017 version, reporting larger than previously estimated projections for ethane production from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. According to the updated information, the Appalachian region has experienced near-exponential growth in natural gas production which is expected to increase for decades. EIA projects that natural gas production in the East region—where the Appalachian Basin is the principal contributor—will quadruple from 2013 to 2050.

"Industry has made significant investments in natural gas and NGL infrastructure to support the boom in production in Appalachia this decade," the primer says. "New investments to take advantage of the NGL resources in the region have been identified by industry, and forecasts for production over the decades to come highlight the opportunity for additional investments across the NGL supply chain."

The 2018 primer includes new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2018 Annual Energy Outlook, as well as forecasts from a recent EIA Short-term Energy Outlook. This includes updated information on infrastructure developments in the Appalachian region and a new section identifying research and development opportunities related to natural gas and NGL production, conversion and storage.

Natural gas produced in Appalachia not only contains NGL, but also ethane and propane.  The region has significant NGL resources that are projected to be economically recoverable over the next three decades. Appalachian NGL production is projected to increase more than 700 percent between 2013 and 2023.

Significant industry investments in natural gas and NGL infrastructure will support the boom in Appalachian production in the coming decades. NGL storage and midstream infrastructure are of particular importance to the region because produced volumes do not align with the high seasonal variability in demand and often exceed pipeline takeaway capacity, which presents further investment opportunities using ethane as a feedstock.