Are We Still in Need of Pipelines?

In the United States today, it is common practice to see vehicles lining up in service stations to refuel and get serviced. Similarly, it is also common practice for people to use tap water in their homes to undertake various activities, including showering and washing. The common denominator in these two events, though often overlooked by actors, is that a network of pipelines has been used to bring the fuel or water to the location. Consequently, it is important to undertake a study that assesses if pipelines are still important in modern society.

Pipelines are used for myriad activities, but this study specifically focuses on pipelines used to deliver natural gas. Available literature demonstrates that “the U.S. natural gas pipeline network is a highly integrated transmission and distribution grid that can transport natural gas to and from nearly any location in the lower 48 States” (U.S. Energy Information Administration, n.d. para. 1). In brief, the U.S. natural gas pipeline grid comprises more than 210 natural gas pipeline systems, 305,000 miles of interstate and intrastate transmission pipelines, more than 1,400 compressor stations that maintain pressure on the natural gas, over 11,000 delivery points and 5000 receipt points, as well as over 1,400 interconnection points that facilitate the transfer of natural gas across the country (U.S. Energy Information Administration, n.d.).

I am convinced that these statistics involving the U.S. natural gas pipeline network show the immense importance of pipelines in meeting and sustaining the transmission and distribution of natural gas to delivery and receipt points located across the country. Owing to the fact that no conclusive studies have been done on the natural gas pipeline networks to date (Brown & Yucel, 2008; Lawrey, 1998), I am of the opinion that my desire to understand the business effects of using pipelines to distribute natural gas serves as a proper justification to undertake a comprehensive study on the issue.

The first business-related problem that I would like addressed in this particular study is identifying and describing the competitive factors of using pipelines to transport natural gas as opposed to using other channels, such as road and/or rail transport. Taxpayers’ money, in my view, will be used more efficiently if these factors are brought into the limelight as policymakers will have knowledge on the distribution channel that should be used in specific areas depending on the competitive factors.

The other business problem I would like addressed is evaluating the usage levels of the natural gas pipeline system to know if the United States is able to recoup the heavy investments incurred in developing the system across the country. The answer to this business issue, in my view, will greatly assist policymakers and government agencies in making investment decisions relating to the use of pipelines for the distribution of natural gas in the country and beyond.

Although there are many methodologies that could be used to collect data, I intend to employ a quantitative technique so that I will have the capacity to empirically and statistically analyze the data from the field, with the view to achieving objective results that will provide sufficient responses to the issues of interest (Creswell, 2013). Such quantitative data, in my view, will be collected using a survey technique (questionnaires). In such a scenario, the self-filled questionnaires will be dispatched to relevant personnel in the energy department and also in the business fraternity. Additionally, secondary data will be used to reinforce and provide explanations to the trends demonstrated by the analysis of primary data.

References

Brown, S.P., & Yucel, M.K. (2008). Deliverability and regional pricing in the U.S. natural gas markets. Energy Economics, 30(5), 2441-2453.

Creswell, J.W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Lawrey, R. (1998). Pricing and access under national competition policy: The case of the natural gas pipeline sector. Australian Economic Review, 31(2), 91-106.

U.S. Energy Information Administration. (n.d.). About U.S. natural gas pipelines – transporting natural gas. Web.