Covering Louisiana

Nov 29, 2013 4:46 AM by AP

Northeast relying less on Gulf natural gas supply

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The amount of natural gas extracted from the Gulf of Mexico and sent to the Northeast has dropped sharply in recent years as new discoveries in that region boost the nation's overall supply, according to new federal data.

New Orleans CityBusiness  reports data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing the quantity of natural gas shipped via pipeline from Southeastern states to the Northeast has dropped 56 percent since 2008, from 7.9 billion cubic feet per day to 3.5 billion.

The figures represent the average daily natural gas inflow from January to September of each year.

The government agency notes, however, that new oil and gas shale plays discovered in the Appalachian region have replaced much of the supply that used to be pumped to the area via pipeline.

Historically, the Southeast has fed growing demand for natural gas needed to keep electric plants running, provide heating fuel and meet other needs in the Northeast. Most of that supply is tapped off the shoreline of Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states.

New technology called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has made it less costly for oil and gas companies to tap resources trapped in tight shale rock deep underground. Companies using the controversial technique crack the shale rock and then pump water and chemicals underground at a high pressure to squeeze out oil and gas.

Increased production - particularly in the Marcellus Shale play spanning parts of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania - has prompted expansions in pipeline capacity to move more natural gas to consumers in Northeastern states.

Natural gas produced in the Gulf still accounts for close to three-fourths of the total inflow of the commodity to the Northeast. But the Energy Information Administration expects that share to continue to decrease as pipeline infrastructure fills out around newer plays in the region.

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Information from: New Orleans CityBusiness, http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com

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