Engineering Innovations
Engineering Innovation

Sustaining Economic Growth with Resilient Energy Infrastructure

Developing resilient, market-responsive energy infrastructure is essential to achieving U.S. energy security and sustaining long-term economic growth.

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A WSP USA webinar for energy industry stakeholders emphasized the need for new infrastructure to transport natural gas and natural gas liquids from the Appalachian region to U.S. markets.

Over the last year, the energy experts at WSP have been studying the factors that drive energy development in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S.—including renewable energy and natural gas—and fostering an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders to highlight issues and craft solutions.

In addition, Gregory Kelly, president and chief executive officer of the firm’s U.S., Central and South America region, is actively engaged in the effort to transform the greater Philadelphia region into the nation’s next energy hub as a member of the CEO Council for Growth, a group of business, higher education and civic leaders seeking to promote economic growth and vitality in an 11-county region in northern Delaware, southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania. The CEO Council is an initiative of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Developing Energy Infrastructure

The need for new energy infrastructure – including pipelines, storage and trans-loading facilities – to bring natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus and Utica shale basins to market was the focus of a recent webinar sponsored by WSP. The informational event showcased the firm’s design, permitting and construction management capabilities to regulators, policy makers, political leaders and developers in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan.

The webinar was hosted by Stratas Advisors, a consulting firm that compiled and analyzed current market data on behalf of WSP| Parsons Brinckerhoff. Presenters included John Porcari, president of WSP’s U.S. advisory services sector; David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition (which promotes responsible natural gas production from the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays); and Greg Haas, Director of Integrated Energy at Stratas Advisors.

Market Access Is Key

Roger Rodiek economic growth resilient energy infrastructure

Roger Rodiek

“At present, there’s an urgent need to develop new pipelines to transport NGLs from the Appalachian region to various domestic markets—Philadelphia, Detroit and Houston,” said Roger K. Rodiek, vice president for strategic development in WSP’s U.S. industrial and energy sector and the webinar’s chief organizer. “The Marcellus formation produces about 22 percent of the country’s gas, and it can continue to do so at current rates for about an additional 20 years, with proven reserves. When you factor in projected reserves, the timeframe is over 100 years.”

Rodiek noted that NGLs are already being transported from the Appalachian region to other parts of the U.S. and Canada for export to European markets. However, additional delivery capacity is needed to handle the abundant gas supplies.

The key challenge, he explained, is to connect the energy supplies with markets that can use the gas for electricity and transportation fuels, and turn the NGLs into feedstocks for chemicals and plastics. Domestic use of gas and NGLs helps generate jobs, tax revenues and economic benefits for communities.

Rodiek also noted the wide range of uses for natural gas, including some that may not be widely known.

“Ethane, propane and butane are components of natural gas that are used extensively in the petrochemical industry,” he said. “They’re converted into polymers that are the raw materials for many consumer products that are actually indispensable—plastics, textiles, construction materials, packaging.”

Urban Community Challenges

WSP’s support for new energy infrastructure in Appalachia is only one aspect of its ongoing work in meeting present-day urban challenges. The firm’s Urban Futures capabilities turn challenges into opportunities with forward-looking strategic, innovative and sustainable approaches that enhance the livability, connectivity and resilience of urban environments.

“Our technical expertise in the design and maintenance of energy-related infrastructure is already well known,” Rodiek said. “Community leaders attending the webinar had an opportunity to learn more about the natural gas and NGL market and how it can be leveraged to increase the region’s economic competitiveness.”

By applying its multidisciplinary expertise—in buildings, environment, industrial and energy, and transportation and infrastructure, as well as advisory services—WSP offers a holistic approach that combines future-ready solutions across the entire spectrum of the natural and built environment.

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