INGAA Chairman Ebel Takes On Significant Challenges

By Jeff Share, Editor | April 2012, Vol. 239 No. 4

INGAA Chairman Greg Ebel discusses strategy during a recent meeting with INGAA President Don Santa, left, and Greg Harper, SVP.

Saying that it’s an interesting time to be in the natural gas business is like saying that it’s good to be able to heat our homes and offices cheaply and efficiently while providing an essential feedstock for manufacturing and chemical plants. And maybe you can add being able to drive a motor vehicle.

Such is the world we live in these days when this cleanest of fossil fuels comes at a price and quantity that was unheard of just a few years back. Now we are talking about the preferred fuel of the 21st century. In truth, the breadth of the ongoing natural gas revolution is beyond the scope of our consideration.

It goes without saying that natural gas would not have its place today without the hundreds of thousands of high-pressure transmission pipelines that dot the U.S. and Canada with more seemingly on the way every day.

But this development has not and will not come without a myriad of technical, economic and public relations efforts that are a constant challenge to the biggest brains in the business.

Leading those efforts on behalf of the North American gas transmission pipelines companies is its voice in Washington, DC – the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA). Those efforts are now being led by Greg Ebel, president and CEO of Houston-based Spectra Energy Corp.

In an extended interview with P&GJ Ebel discussed pipeline safety, natural gas as a source for electrical power generation, the shale revolution, legislative priorities, economic benefits of natural gas development, and the prospects for pipeline construction.

P&GJ: You became chairman of INGAA in early October 2011, you are halfway through your term, what are your priorities as chairman and how will you measure success?
I’m halfway through my term – but never finished working on our industry’s behalf. We’ve had a productive year thus far, and we’re making good progress on our 2012 priorities: legislate, advocate and educate.

A big win on the “legislate” front was the recent passage of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act (“the Pipeline Safety Act”). This successful legislation resulted from a concerted effort among regulators, legislators, various stakeholder groups and INGAA’s board-level safety, integrity management and legislative committees.

INGAA is a dedicated advocate for the tremendous economic, environmental and energy security benefits of natural gas. Through our INGAA Foundation, we commissioned an important study on the economic effect of natural gas infrastructure investment. The results are compelling: The midstream sector will create more than 125,000 jobs a year through 2035. Beyond the employment benefits, growing investment in natural gas will produce a value-added contribution of approximately $260 billion; more than $511 billion in total output; and federal, state and local tax revenue generation of nearly $57 billion.

INGAA is also working to educate stakeholders on the important issue of gas-electric reliability and the need for firm contractual commitments between infrastructure service providers and electric generators.