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 based on data through 2007/2008 with selected updates


Major Natural Gas Transportation Corridors
Corridors from the Southwest | From Canada | From Rocky Mountain Area | Details about Transportation Corridors

The national natural gas delivery network is intricate and expansive, but most of the major transportation routes can be broadly categorized into 11 distinct corridors or flow patterns.

  • 5 major routes extend from the producing areas of the Southwest
  • 4  routes enter the United States from Canada
  • 2 originate in the Rocky Mountain area. 

A summary of the major corridors and links to details about each corridor are provided below.  

Corridors from the Southwest Region

More than 20 of the major interstate pipelines originate in the Southwest Region. Some extend to the Southeast through Louisiana and Arkansas, others to the Central and Midwestern States through Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and to the Western States through New Mexico. This area of the country exports about 45 percent (6.1 trillion cubic feet in 2007) of its production, which is 47 percent of the total natural gas consumed elsewhere in the lower 48 States.

Pipelines exiting the region have the capacity to accommodate as much as 45.2  Bcf per day: 62 percent to the Southeast Region, 20 percent to the Central Region, 13 percent to the Western Region, and the rest to Mexico. Much of the pipeline capacity directed toward the Southeast traverses the region en route to Midwestern and Northeastern markets. To a lesser degree, this is also true for the pipeline capacity exiting to the midsection of the country, much of which is ultimately destined for the Midwestern States.

  • 1. Southwest-Southeast: from the area of East Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico, to the Southeastern States.
  • 2. Southwest-Northeast: from the area of East Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico, to the U.S. Northeast (via the Southeast Region).

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  • 3. Southwest-Midwest: from the area of East Texas, Louisiana, Gulf of Mexico, and Arkansas to the Midwest.
Major Natural Gas Transportation Corridors
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U.S. Regional Definitions - Map

More information related to Natural Gas Transportation Corridors …

Region-to-Region System Capacity Levels - Map Interstate Pipeline Capacity on a State-to-State Level - spreadsheet


         Other Natural Gas Transportation Topics:

  Interstate - Pipeline systems that cross one or more States
  Intrastate
- Pipeline systems that operate only within State boundaries
  Network Design - Basic concepts and parameters
  Pipeline Capacity & Usage
  Regulatory Authorities
  Transportation, Processing, & Gathering
  Underground Natural Gas Storage - Includes regional discussion
  Pipeline Development & Expansion
  U.S./Canada/Mexico Import & Export Locations

  • 4. Southwest Panhandle-Midwest: from the area of southwestern Texas, the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, western Arkansas, and southwestern Kansas to the Midwest.
  • 5. Southwest-Western: from the area of southwestern Texas (Permian Basin) and northern New Mexico (San Juan Basin) to the Western States, primarily California.

Corridors From Canada

  • 6. Canada-Western: from the area of Western Canada to Western markets in the United States, principally California, Oregon, and Washington State.
  • 7. Canada-Midwest: from the area of Western Canada to Midwestern markets in the United States.

Corridors From the Rocky Mountain Area

In the Central Region, only two major interstate pipelines originating within the region provides transportation services directly to another region, Kern River Transmission Company and the Rockies Express Pipeline Company. All the others operate primarily within the Central Region itself or originate in other regions. Shippers using these interregional lines to move supplies outside the region take advantage of the interconnections these lines have with the interstate pipelines traversing the region, principally those coming out of the Southwest Region.

  • 10. Rocky Mountains-Western: from the Rocky Mountain area of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming to the Western States, primarily Nevada and California with support for markets in Oregon and Washington.

Details about the Transportation Corridors

Southwest to Southeastern US

Two fairly distinct subcorridors extend into the Southeast Region from the Southwest: one goes eastward into Mississippi and continues further east, and the second goes northward into Tennessee and Kentucky. Along the first route, five major interstate pipeline companies -- Centerpoint Energy Transmission Company, Florida Gas Transmission Company (FGT), Gulf South Pipeline Company, Gulfstream Natural Gas System, and Southern Natural Gas Company (SONAT) -- transport the vast majority of natural gas that is delivered within the Southeast region. Together they can handle at least 13.3 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day for shippers in the region.

Since 2006, several major transmission pipeline expansions have taken place on this route as expanding natural gas development and production in the Barnett shale and Bossier formations in east Texas has needed to find access to new markets. Centerpoint Energy Transmission Company and Gulf South Pipeline Company have both extended and expanded their mainline systems to reach interstate pipeline interconnections in Mississippi and Alabama, increasing capacity along this route by 3.7 Bcf/d. By 2010, three more interstate pipelines are scheduled to be built along this corridor, adding 4.2 Bcf/d. They are: Texas Gas Transmission Company's 1.1 Bcf/d Fayetteville/Greenville Laterals, the 1.7 Bcf/d Gulf Crossing Pipeline and the 1.4 Bcf/d MidContinent Express Pipeline.

Varying amounts of capacity on several other large interstate pipelines that follow this subcorridor also serve limited markets in the region. For instance, Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company (Transco) serves customers in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina as it continues along its route up the east coast. However, this service only represents about 1.1 Bcf per day, or 30 percent, of the 3.5 Bcf per day found on the Transco system as it enters the region. Yet, in North Carolina it is essentially the only source of natural gas supplies to the State.

Along the second subcorridor, one pipeline company Texas Gas Transmission Company (TGT) predominates, at least in terms of delivery points. While this system extends into the Midwest Region, more than 70 percent of its delivery points are located in the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. TGT provides substantial deliveries to underground storage facilities in northern Kentucky that supplement supplies to the local market and to the Midwest Region during the heating season.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (Tenneco) and Texas Eastern Transmission Company (TETCO) are two additional systems operating along this subcorridor, but most of their delivery points are outside the Southeast Region. Tenneco, however, is the principal supplier of gas to two regional interstate pipelines: Enbridge Pipelines (AlaTenn), mostly operating in northern Alabama, and the East Tennessee Gas Company (Tennessee and Virginia).

The underground storage facilities located along this corridor are defined by their location. Those facilities at the corridor's southern end in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are mainly high-deliverability salt storage sites to support shippers and traders who want to acquire supplies for shipment to market. Of the 11.6 Bcf of daily storage deliverability (withdrawal) available in the area, 56 percent is from salt cavern sites.

This feature provides shippers using these corridors access to very flexible storage, which can be used to enhance their deliverability schedule, avoid transportation imbalances, and support any gas trading or hedging activities they may wish to engage in. In northwestern Kentucky, along the western subcorridor, storage facilities are devoted primarily to providing seasonal supplies. They are supported, for the most part, by deliveries from the Texas Gas Transmission system. The majority of the storage in Mississippi and Alabama is available to shippers using either subcorridor.  

Southwest to Northeastern US

The Southwest-to-Northeast corridor consists of two routes. The first extends from East Texas and Louisiana northeastward through Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio to enter the Northeast Region via West Virginia or Pennsylvania. The second route begins as the first but then extends northeastward from Mississippi via the east coast States and enters Virginia from the south. The principal interstate pipeline systems operating along the corridor include Tennessee Gas, Columbia Gulf Transmission, and Texas Eastern Transmission on the western segment, and Transcontinental Gas Pipeline on the eastern segment. These four pipeline companies represent approximately 10.2 Bcf per day of total corridor capacity, making this corridor the largest of the major transportation corridors in North America.

During wintertime peak periods, each of the systems is almost fully utilized. During the summer months, however, usage rates for the pipeline systems operating along this corridor tend to drop substantially. The principal factor affecting summertime usage rates on several of these pipeline systems is the demand for gas to refill underground storage sites in the States of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and, to some degree, Ohio and New York as well.

The majority of the more than 190 underground storage sites located along this corridor are accessible to shippers. At the southwestern terminus of the corridor, more than 30 sites with a working gas capacity of at least 624 billion cubic feet and a daily withdrawal capability of 13 Bcf per day are located within 20 miles of the subject pipeline systems. Most of this capacity is used by producers, who use it to store short-term excess production, and by market centers.

This corridor links with some of the most active trading points located outside the Southwestern production area. One of the most significant is the Ellisburg-Leidy center in Pennsylvania, which provides interconnections and transportation services between the pipelines comprising this corridor and the other major interstate pipelines operating primarily within the Northeast States. Shippers using the corridor may also utilize the services of several natural gas market centers to expand their marketing and transportation options.

Southwest to Midwestern US

The Southwest-to-Midwest corridor extends northward out of East Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas (Arkoma Basin production) and generally through Tennessee/Kentucky into the Midwest Region, although a part of it also travels through Missouri. The principal interstate pipeline systems operating along this corridor are: ANR Pipeline Company (ANR), Midwestern Gas Transmission Company (via Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company), Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPL), Texas Gas Transmission Company (TGT), Texas Eastern Transmission Company (TETCO), and Trunkline Gas Company. Mississippi River Gas Transmission Pipeline Company also transports gas along this corridor but it terminates in the St Louis, Missouri, area. Its operations in Illinois are confined to the area east of St Louis.

The portions of these systems located along this corridor represent approximately 7.8 Bcf per day, or 28 percent of the total pipeline capacity feeding into the Midwest Region (27.5 Bcf per day). They also account for more than 30 percent of the total pipeline capacity exiting this area of the Southwest.

Little underground storage is located along the midsection of this corridor. However, shippers have access to significant amounts of storage at either end. This corridor also links together two major gas trading centers: the Henry Hub in Louisiana and the Chicago Center in northern Illinois. In addition, the corridor also includes several natural gas trading (and price discovery) locations accessible to shippers and traders via the several major commercial electronic trading systems set up in the United States and Canada.

During the heating season, these markets are actively used by shippers and other market participants as a way to balance their receipts/deliveries, for arbitrage between the two markets, and to smooth market and price fluctuations through hedging. 

Southwest Panhandle to Midwestern US

This route is a major link between the Waha area (Permian Basin) of southwestern Texas and the Chicago area market. It extends from the West Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle areas northward through the major gas production fields (including Hugoton and Panhandle) located in southwestern Kansas, and then northeastward toward the Midwest marketplace. In Nebraska, it links with another corridor (see Rocky Mountain-Midwest section) bringing supplies in from the Rocky Mountain areas of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.

There are four major interstate pipelines that run along this corridor: ANR Pipeline Company, Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company, Northern Natural Gas Company, and Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America. These four pipelines alone constitute 67 percent of total pipeline capacity exiting this area. These pipeline routes, however, represent only about 17 percent of the total capacity into the Midwest Region. The Trailblazer Pipeline system ties in Rocky Mountain supplies with an interconnection to Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America in Nebraska.

Market centers and commercial trading points located in the Waha and Panhandle area of West Texas serve this transportation corridor at its apex. At its terminus, shippers and traders can link their Texas trading with the Chicago market. In addition, trading centers located in south central Kansas provide shippers with the opportunity to do business with traders in the other two areas. All four pipelines operating in the corridor have direct or indirect links with each other.

Only a limited amount of underground storage capacity is available to transporters along this route. However, during the nonheating season a sizeable amount of capacity on these systems is used to transport supplies for injection into storage facilities in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The ANR Pipeline system in particular has a number of open-access sites located at the northern end of its system in Michigan. NGPL has a number of storage sites located in Illinois. 

Southwest to Western US

The Southwest-Western corridor is used to transport supplies from the Permian Basin area of West Texas, through New Mexico (where the northern route taps into the San Juan Basin production area), and westward primarily to Arizona and California. Two major interstate pipelines, El Paso Natural Gas Company and Transwestern Pipeline Company, operate along this corridor. Both of these pipelines end at the California or Nevada State borders, where they deliver supplies to Southwest Gas Company (Nevada), Southern California Gas Company, and Pacific Gas & Electric Company, the largest pipelines serving the California marketplace. In addition, Transwestern Gas Pipeline Company links with the Mojave Pipeline Company, an interstate pipeline that transports natural gas supplies to the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and cogeneration customers located in Kern County, California.

Joining El Paso Natural Gas Company and Transwestern Pipeline Company along the northern route, in 2002 Questar's Southern Trails Pipeline (an oil pipeline conversion) was completed, transporting an additional 90 MMcf per day between the San Juan Basin area and the California border.

Much of the natural gas flowing along this corridor is produced in the San Juan Basin. The TransColorado Pipeline system, completed in 1996, can move as much as 590 MMcf per day from north central Colorado and the Ignacio area of the southern Colorado San Juan Basin to interconnections with the El Paso Natural Gas and Transwestern Pipeline systems in the Blanco area of northwestern New Mexico. Northwest Pipeline Company also can deliver up to 250 Mmcf per day into these two systems.

A significant amount of West Texas and New Mexico gas supplies also are transported along the southern portion of this corridor, which consists primarily of the El Paso Natural Gas Company's Line 2000 which has a throughput capacity of approximately 2.4 Bcf per day. This section of the corridor primarily serves southern Arizona and southern California, but in 2002 it also began service to the new North Baja Pipeline system, designed to transport up to 500 MMcf per day to Mexico. (In 2010, the North Baja Pipeline system will become bidirectional, having the capability to transport up to 2.0 Bcf per day from LNG import facilities in Mexico to Western U.S. markets.)

There is very little underground natural gas storage capacity associated with this corridor. At the extreme eastern end of the corridor, only one site, the Washington Ranch facility operated by El Paso Natural Gas Company, is reserved primarily for system support services and is not available for customer use. At its western end, in southern California, a limited amount of storage capacity is available to shippers at five sites operated by Southern California Gas Company (SoCal).

Although some of the natural gas injected into these storage sites comes from producing fields in southern California, a significant amount of the working gas stored at these sites comes out of this corridor. The combined withdrawal rate capability of the four sites is 3.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day, while their total working gas capacity is 120 Bcf. This translates into roughly 32 days of backup from these sites.

Western Canada to Midwestern US

This transportation corridor lies between Western Canadian supply areas and the U.S. Midwest and links two Canadian systems, TransCanada Pipeline Ltd. and Foothills Pipeline Company, with three United States pipeline systems, Great Lakes Gas Transmission Company, Northern Border Pipeline Company and Viking Gas Transmission Company. In addition, the 1,300-mile Alliance Pipeline, completed in late 2000, provides a direct transportation route for "wet" (natural gas high in liquids content) between producing fields in northwestern British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, and a gas-processing plant (Aux Sable) located outside Chicago, Illinois. These tie-ins represent about 6.2 Bcf per day of pipeline capacity, or about 41 percent of total U.S. natural gas import capacity in 2006. Between 1990 and 2006, capacity on this route more than doubled, going from 3.1 Bcf per day in 1990 to 7.2 Bcf per day in 2006.

The Northern Border Pipeline (NBP) system extended its pipeline system to Illinois (from it original terminus in Iowa) in 1998 and to Indiana in 2001, now providing almost a Bcf per day to the Chicago area and to customers in Indiana. In 2000, another pipeline, the Vector Pipeline system, located between Chicago, Illinois and Dawn, Ontario, at the eastern end of the corridor, was placed in service. It can transport up to one Bcf per day between the United States (Michigan) and Canada (Ontario). It was developed primarily to provide an alternative expansion route for Canadian gas and service to customers in Ontario, Canada. It also lies along a route that can be expanded to potentially accommodate gas transportation of Western Canadian gas to Northeast U.S. markets via the Empire/Millennium gas pipeline system that is scheduled for development in New York State in 2008.

A large number of underground storage facilities are located in proximity to several of the pipeline systems operating in this corridor, although not all of them are directly accessible to shippers. For instance, nine sites (1 Bcf per day injection, 1.8 Bcf per day withdrawal capability) are directly accessible to shippers using the Great Lakes Gas Transmission system, while the storage facilities located in Illinois and operated by Northern Illinois Gas Company (eight sites, 3.4 Bcf working gas capacity) are available only through the Chicago Market Center, which is affiliated with the company, or through the company itself. Altogether, the daily injection capability at storage facilities linked to the receiving end of this corridor represents the potential use of about five Bcf per day of pipeline capacity during the storage refill period from April through October.

Western Canada to Northeastern US

The western portion of the Canada-Northeast corridor links the TransCanada Pipeline system (and Western Canadian gas production) to seven pipeline companies in the Northeastern United States. The seven are: Iroquois Pipeline Company, North Country Pipeline Company, the Portland Gas Transmission System, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, Empire Pipeline Company, Vermont Gas Company, and St. Lawrence Gas Company. Indirectly, the corridor also supplies gas to the National Fuel Gas Supply Company and Dominion Transmission Company.

The seven systems transport gas primarily into New York and the New England States at a total capacity level of 3.4 Bcf per day. While the vast majority of the Canadian capacity that comes into the U.S. Northeast is off the northern tier of the TransCanada system, about five percent represents capacity that traverses the U.S. Midwest (on the Great Lakes Transmission system), crosses back into Canada through Ontario, and is imported once again at Niagara, New York.

In Canada, at the western end of this corridor in Alberta and Saskatchewan provinces, approximately 4 Bcf per day of daily storage deliverability is available at 12 sites interconnected with the TransCanada Pipeline System. In addition, over 25 storage sites located at Dawn, Ontario, Canada, are available to shippers transporting supplies to the area via the Great Lakes Transmission system. In the U.S. Northeast, storage deliverability of up to 14.8 Bcf per day is available to these shippers.

Eastern Canada to Northeast (New England)

This corridor consists primarily of the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline system, completed in late 1999. It can transport more than 445 MMcf per day into the United States from off the eastern coast of Canada at Sable Island. The current system merges with the Portland Gas Transmission System at Wells, Maine to deliver almost 628 MMcf per day in northern Massachusetts to customers on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline system. Beginning in 2002, with the completion of Phase III of the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline system, shippers have had the option of transporting up to 230 MMcf per day of this capacity to the Boston, Massachusetts area on the system. 

Canada to Western US

The Canada-Western route brings natural gas from Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, through the States of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, with terminating points in Nevada and California. In Canada, Spectra Energy Corporation's Westcoast Gas Transmission Ltd. and Alberta Natural Gas Ltd. (in association with Foothills Pipeline Ltd.) receive gas from the TransCanada Pipeline (NOVA) in Alberta (the principal pipeline system in the region linked into the major production areas in Alberta and British Columbia) and transport that gas to the U.S. border. There the supplies are received by Northwest Pipeline Company (from Westcoast Gas Transmission) and Gas Transmission Northwest from Alberta Natural Gas. The two pipelines have a combined capacity of 4.4 Bcf per day, 99 percent of import capacity in the area. This route represents one-quarter of the total capacity reaching the United States from Canada.

While the Gas Transmission Northwest Company transports most of its gas, about 76 percent in 2006, directly southward to California, the Northwest Pipeline Company system extends south and eastward from its border receipt point, operating on a bidirectional basis along much of the eastern section. At the northern Nevada State line, Northwest Pipeline Company links with the Paiute Pipeline Company, which until recently was the only gas supplier to the Reno, Nevada, area. Only one new pipeline has been added to the corridor since 1990, the Tuscarora Pipeline Company (110 MMcf per day) in 1995. This pipeline interconnects with the Gas Transmission Northwest Company system at the northern California border and transports gas to the Reno, Nevada area.

Access to underground storage for shippers along this corridor is limited. Much of the storage capacity on the southern portion is owned and operated by local distribution companies and is used exclusively to support their own seasonal storage needs. Nevertheless, shippers can acquire access to storage services on an as-available basis through several independent storage operations. The California Gas Transmission Company provides limited access to its three storage sites in northern California. At the Canadian end of the corridor, much of the available storage is intricately linked with market center operations, providing parking and loaning services primarily to producers shipping gas to the United States. These Canadian sites are capable of handling up to 6 Bcf per day deliverability and have a working gas capacity level of about 412 Bcf.

Rocky Mountain Area to Western US

This system extends from the Opal, Wyoming area southwestward through Nevada, just north of Las Vegas, to Kern County, California. In California, the Kern River Pipeline system physically merges with the Mojave Pipeline system (400 MMcf per day) to form one line serving customers primarily in Kern and San Bernardino Counties in California. Mojave receives its supplies from Transwestern Gas Pipeline Company and El Paso Natural Gas Company at the Arizona-California border. Its capacity is approximately 885 million cubic feet per day.

The Kern River Pipeline system was developed primarily to carry gas to the enhanced oil recovery market in southern California, which has been a large natural gas market. In 1997, its service was extended to the Las Vegas electric power generation market with the opening of an expanded metering facility with Southwest Gas Company, the major natural gas distributor in the Las Vegas area. Its system capacity was doubled in 2003 to approximately 1,750 MMcf/d to accommodate the growing demand along its route.

Underground storage facilities, although available at the apex of this corridor in Wyoming and Utah, do not play a major role in the operations of the Kern River Pipeline system. Although six sites are in the vicinity, with a combined daily deliverability of 0.7 Bcf per day and 57 Bcf of working gas capacity, only one, Questar Pipeline Company's Clay Basin facility (0.4 Bcf per day, 51 Bcf), is accessible to shippers. 

Rocky Mountain Area to Midwestern US

This corridor links Rocky Mountain natural gas supplies from Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado with markets in the Midwestern United States and with several sizable metropolitan markets in eastern Kansas and Missouri. While the corridor itself does not yet extend into the Midwest, the several pipelines currently operating along this route interconnect with major trunklines that bring natural gas supplies from the Southwest Region to Midwestern markets.

The Trailblazer System, which is a contiguous linkup of the Overthrust, Wyoming Interstate, and Trailblazer pipelines, operates from western Wyoming to eastern Nebraska, where it offloads to the Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America pipeline. Similarly, Colorado Interstate Pipeline Company ’s Cheyenne Plains Pipeline, built in 2004, provides more than 730 MMcf/d of gas transportation for Wyoming and Colorado production from the Cheyenne Hub located in northeastern Colorado. The Cheyenne Plains Pipeline terminates with interconnections to Northern Natural Gas and Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America in southwestern Kansas. Natural gas transported on these pipeline systems is subsequently delivered to customers in the eastern portion of the Central Region and in Midwestern markets.

The Southern Star Central Pipeline (formerly Williams Natural Gas Co – Central) and the KM Interstate Pipeline Company also have operations along this corridor, but these two pipelines serve primarily local regional markets. However, the KM Interstate Pipeline Company system does include its Pony Express Pipeline (255 million cubic feet per day) segment which runs from central Wyoming to south of Kansas City, Missouri. Currently this segment does not provide any interconnections with the two major interstate pipelines connecting this corridor to Midwestern markets; rather, its full capacity is committed to customers located in the Kansas City area.

In 2008, the second segment of the 1.8 Bcf/d Rockies Express Pipeline system, which will eventually comprise more than 1,660 miles and transport Rocky Mountain natural gas to Midwest and Northeast markets, was placed in service. The first segment of the new system, completed in early 2007, involved the construction of a 327-mile pipeline system from the Meeker Hub in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, to the Cheyenne Hub in Weld County, in northeastern Colorado. Completion of the entire system, which is scheduled for early 2010, will mark the first time that Rocky Mountain natural gas supplies would be delivered directly to Midwest and Northeast markets.

Customers using this corridor have a limited number of underground storage facilities available for their use. At the terminus of the corridor in Wyoming and Colorado are 18 sites that customers may access. Much of the storage located at this end, however, is used to support local producers and distribution companies. In the Chicago area corridor, shippers also have access to several storage facilities associated with the Chicago market center.