The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the worldwide consumption of natural gas could increase by 70% between 2002 and 2025 with the most robust growth in demand expected to be among emerging economies. The EIA also estimates that in North America the consumption of natural gas is expected to grow by 1.5% per year. It is reasonable to assume that the growing demand for natural gas usage will result in a growing demand in supply thus fueling the need for expansion of existing pipeline systems and/or the constructing of new pipelines to gather and transport gas to the market area. Many larger diameter pipeline projects are in the making throughout the world such as Sakhalin II oil and gas project, the South Caucusus project etc. In the United States several large diameter pipeline projects are on the drawing board such as El Paso's Continental Connector, Kinder Morgan's Rockies Express and the Mackenzie Valley project. From a technical viewpoint how does one engineer a new gas pipeline that would provide low cost, high reliability and safety while transporting gas from one point to another? The price of fuel has doubled in the last five years which has continued to drive the trend towards larger diameter higher pressure pipelines. Additionally compression equipment selection continues to evolve as manufacturers development more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly prime movers. At El Paso Corporation, we as designers of tomorrow's gas transmission pipelines have been forced to re-analyze/rethink the traditional rules of thumb we historically used in pipeline design in light of higher fuel prices, new compression technologies, availability of larger diameter pipe, advanced integrity management programs and the availability of geographic data in the early stages of the project. This paper will discuss, but will not be limited to, various factors such as yield strength of the pipe, internal coating, Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP), pipe diameter, safety factor, compressor station spacing, unit selection at compressor stations and their relationship to the design and operations philosophy of a natural gas pipeline.


When designing a pipeline project several departments within a pipeline company come together to achieve maximum efficiencies and ensure that all legal obligations are met within the required construction and in-service deadlines. Typically the departments that form the core project team are Business Development, Legal, Facility Planning, Engineering, Property Rights Services (PRS) or Right-Of-Way (ROW), Environmental, Operations, Rates/Regulatory/Finance and Government Media and Community Outreach. The following are the typical responsibilities of each department.

Business Development

The role of Business Development is to identify market growth, supply availability, competition and then if the conditions are conducive to building a new project, play a lead role in organizing a project team to build a successful project. In addition, Business Development will negotiate rates, get Precedent Agreements (PA) signed and serve as the primary contact between the pipeline company and the client.

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