This white paper, Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Efficiency, documents advances in pipeline, engine and compressor technology that have produced continuous efficiency gains in the natural gas transportation pipeline industry since the advent of long mileage pipelines. The paper also reviews how factors such as the balance of pipe diameter and compression, as well as the efficiency of individual system components, contribute to overall pipeline system efficiency. Further, the paper describes pipeline company decision-making with respect to investments that have the potential to improve the efficiency of their assets.
In addition, the paper reviews regulatory and environmental policies as well as competitive market pressures that affect a pipeline company’s ability to maximize the efficient use of its system. The paper states that the competitive commercial environment created by restructuring wholesale natural gas markets significantly affects the economic incentives for incorporating innovations to improve the transportation efficiency of the natural gas pipeline system. Innovations that reduce cost or improve the quality of service desired by shippers will be incorporated. On the other hand, when the cost of such innovations exceeds what shippers are willing to pay under their transportation contracts with pipeline companies, there is little incentive for pipelines to assume the risk associated with such investments. Pipeline companies strive to be as efficient as possible, yet must balance efficiency with the need to provide reliable and flexible service to customers.