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North America


In addition to considerable crude oil reserves, the United States of America has abundant natural gas resources, and additionally produces unconventional gases such as shale, tight and coal seam gas. Currently, the most active shales are the Barnett, the Haynesville/Bossier, the Antrim, Fayetteville, Marcellus and New Albany shales, although there is also a lot of new development planned in the Eagle Ford Shale.

To support this development, the US has approximately 490,850 km of interstate and intrastate transmission pipelines, more than 210 natural gas pipeline systems and more than 1,400 compressor stations.

The US receives large amounts of imports from Canada, one of the world’s biggest producers of petroleum; it is ranked third in the world in natural gas production and sixth in oil. Over 12,000 km of gathering lines transport crude oil from producers’ fields in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin to approximately 23,3000 km of main trunk lines, which then transport the product to Canadian refineries and international border crossing points, and from the US into Canadian refineries. There are also over 5,000 km of pipeline dedicated to the transport of refined petroleum products.

Major pipeline companies in the North American region include Enbridge, TransCanada, El Paso Pipeline Group and Kinder Morgan.

North America has large areas of desert, which can pose a challenge when constructing pipelines. It can be difficult to establish access to the right-of-way, and sometimes pipelines are blocked by sand dunes. In these situations, heavy duty equipment is required to traverse the sandy terrain, and whole sand dunes usually need to be removed to ensure the pipelines are installed in a stable area. Sandstorms, erosion and worker heatstroke are also issues that need to be considered when designing and constructing pipelines in the desert.
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