For the last several years, the United States has been the world's top producer of natural gas and oil. This dramatic expansion in our nation's energy production has rocketed us ahead of perennial top nations like Saudi Arabia and Russia.
And it takes a massive energy infrastructure, such as pipelines, railroads, highways, waterways and ports, to get that energy to where it is needed.
The United States has the largest network of energy pipelines in the world, with more than 2.4 million miles of pipe that safely delivers energy to its destination 99.99% of the time.
As expansive as our nation’s infrastructure is, however, America is in need of investment to keep pace with this nation's growing production of natural gas and oil, as well as the demands from consumers.
This is all good news. Investing in our nation’s energy infrastructure will not only allow the oil and natural gas industry to keep pace with energy demand, it will also help keep energy affordable for Americans.
And the investment required to build this infrastructure will have positive impacts throughout the U.S. economy, employing many individuals and contributing significantly to Gross Domestic Product.
According to a 2017 ICF study:
- Rapid infrastructure development is likely to continue for a prolonged period of time. The primary drivers for robust development are still in place – shale and tight resource development is likely to continue in earnest, and markets will grow in response to the relatively low commodity prices that are being fostered by new oil and gas supplies.
- Total capital expenditures for oil and gas infrastructure development will range from $1.06 to $1.34 trillion from 2017 through 2035 -- or an average annual of $56 to $71 billion.
- Investment in infrastructure contributes $1.50 to $1.89 trillion to U.S. Gross Domestic Product over the projection period, or $79 to $100 billion annually. This includes investments in Surface and Lease Equipment; Gathering and Processing Facilities; Oil, Gas, and NGL Pipelines; Oil and Gas Storage Facilities; Refineries and Oil Products Pipelines; and Export Terminals.
- Infrastructure development will employ an average of 828,000 to 1,047,000 individuals annually in the U.S. Significant jobs are created not only within states where infrastructure development occurs, but across ALL states because of indirect and induced labor impacts.
Infrastructure investment will also foster delivery of lower cost energy to households and businesses, and help the upstream and downstream portions of the gas and oil business develop more fully over time. It will especially benefit those areas of the country which do not have access to America’s newfound abundant energy, such as areas in the Northeast which pay inordinately high energy costs due to lack of energy infrastructure.
The outcome of the how much infrastructure gets built is dependent on regulatory approvals of infrastructure projects. America’s policymakers should not obstruct critical infrastructure investments which foster the nation’s economic growth and energy security.