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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?

Definition: Scapegoat, someone who is punished for the errors of others.

The environment is the scapegoat being used to deny the permitting needed for the final phases of the Keystone XL Pipeline, allowing nearly a million barrels per day (b/d) of additional crude to cross over from Canada into the United States.

“We’re having a revolution. And we’re just scratching the surface.”—G. Steven Farris, CEO of Apache Corporation.

That quote comes from an illuminating article entitled “U.S. Inches Toward Goal of Energy Independence,” published March 22, 2012 by The New York Times. Ironically, the article came out at the same time President Obama was pictured at a TransCanada pipe yard near Cushing, OK, pledging to expedite the southern leg of Keystone XL along with other necessary infrastructure.

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.

On Jan. 3, President Obama signed the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (2011 Act) (H.R. 2845, Public Law 112-90, 125 Stat. 1904). The 2011 Act significantly amended existing pipeline safety laws and authorized the appropriation of funds to support the pipeline safety activities of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) through 2015.

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.

Price volatility in natural gas and crude oil markets is energy executives’ top concern and compliance with new industry regulations looms, but industry leaders are generally confident in the coming year’s prospects, according to Grant Thornton LLP’s 10th Survey of Upstream U.S. Energy Companies.

GE and Chesapeake Energy Corporation announced March 7 a collaboration to develop infrastructure solutions they said will help accelerate the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

In many ways the world of natural gas trading bears little resemblance to the halcyon days of the 2000-2001 period when the business began an infamous meltdown because of the questionable practices some companies were applying.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a major tariff increase sought by the Enterprise TE Products Pipeline Company for the Enterprise TEPPCO pipeline. The increase was hotly opposed by the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and many individual shippers.