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One of the most nagging offshoots of the San Bruno, CA, natural gas transmission pipeline tragedy was that in the immediate aftermath and the hot glow of federal, state and utility investigations, the operator, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), had no credible information on the section of pipe that failed. Worse yet, this turned out to be not just an isolated case.

There are few executives around today better able to discuss the evolution of the natural gas industry on this planet than J. Mike Stice, CEO of Chesapeake Midstream Partners, President of Chesapeake Midstream Development and Senior Vice President of Natural Gas Projects for Chesapeake Energy Corp.

In the winter of 2012 a mostly snowless and relatively warm Bakken Shale play in northwest North Dakota was trucking about 70% of its oil supplies in the gathering and processing phase as production continued at an all-time record clip averaging 546,000 bpd in January. New midstream infrastructure construction was limited to intrastate shipments within an under-developed gathering and processing system.

On its long journey from extraction to the consumer, natural gas has to be compressed repeatedly to maintain the required discharge pressure in the pipelines. Russia's leading supplier of automation equipment for the gas turbine compressors used for this purpose places its trust in the proven "made in Germany" control technology. This ensures reliable long-term operation as well as maximum supply quality and reliability during natural gas transport.

Several concurrent forces are at work today at the operational, production and regulatory compliance levels that are creating an urgent need for enhanced tools to help operators meet all of today’s ever-increasing asset management requirements. At the same time, operators are striving to gain improvements in operational efficiency to increase production with fewer staff, and do so in a manner that fully satisfies the regulatory requirements. Fortunately, there are many practical advances in both foundational and emerging technologies that can help operators address all these converging forces.

Driven by public concerns, regulations and technology improvements, noise control in Alberta’s energy industry has evolved during the past four decades into one of the best in North America. Before the late 1960s, if you had a noise complaint against an energy firm in the Province you had to negotiate.

OTC 2012 – the world's foremost event for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production and environmental protection – will be held April 30- May 3 at Reliant Park in Houston. Last year’s attendance topped 78,000 and officials expect similar attendance this year.

More than 2 million miles of natural gas pipeline in the United States distribute natural gas to customers every day. Considering the amount of natural gas flowing across the country at any given time, gas providers have an exceedingly good safety record. While serious incidents are uncommon, all it takes is one major event like the San Bruno explosion in September 2010 to focus national attention on the potential risk of natural gas and the need for continued diligence on the part of the gas industry.

When you look at the staggering prospects for natural gas as perhaps the essential fuel of the 21st century, can you imagine a more exciting time to be key player in this vital industry, charged with pushing forward the agenda of those energy companies that are on the front-line of providing that precious resource?

At the end of 2011, the shale boom continued to spawn new-found expectations for U.S. oil and natural gas resources that contain large opportunities for the pipeline and other infrastructure sectors that are quietly riding the production upswing. Resulting low domestic gas prices relative to other global markets have sparked a scramble for export licenses to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe and Asia.

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