The pipeline industry worldwide is set to ramp up substantial capacity additions between now and 2013, with natural gas pipelines responsible for 63% of total capital expenditures (capex) over the period, according to a report.

UK-based Douglas-Westwood Ltd. reported the findings in its World Onshore Pipelines Market Report 2009-2013. The consultant is forecasting that almost 139,000 kilometers (86,370 miles) of hydrocarbons trunk pipelines will be constructed over the next five years at a total capital cost of more than $144 billion. At that rate, pipeline spending would be 5% higher than in the previous five-year period of 2004-2008.

“Investment in gas pipelines is underpinning the considerable expenditure in the global onshore pipelines market as nations look to diversify their gas supply,” said Chairman John Westwood. “Globally, over $91.4 billion is expected to be required to install over 80,000 kilometers [49,709 miles] of gas pipelines — accounting for 63% of total global capex and 58% of overall installation length.”

According to Douglas-Westwood’s Alex Pearce, the most significant growth in length installed and associated capex is seen for pipelines 54 inches in diameter or more. “This trend is driven by a global growth in long, large-diameter export and cross-country pipeline projects to help meet the challenges of growing energy demand, shifting natural gas production concentrations and energy supply security.”

North America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union will account for 74% of pipeline capex to 2012, said Pearce.

“However, we expect the Middle East to experience a sizeable growth in pipelines investment, accounting for 12% of the forecast global capex,” he said. “Beyond 2009 the onshore pipelines market is set for a downturn in annual capex, largely due to delays in project execution — particularly large transnational and transcontinental pipeline proposals — rather than being indicative of any long-term market trends. Such delays are typical for large-scale projects, but issues relating to product prices and the credit crunch are now also impacting current pipeline proposals.”

For information on the report, contact Douglas-Westwood via e-mail at

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