Pipelines represent a highly efficient mode of transporting large quantities of liquids or gases (predominantly oil, natural gas & water) overland, underground or undersea over long distances. Given the high up-front capital costs of constructing pipelines, only large transported volumes of liquids or gases can warrant such investments. In much of the world, significant pipeline infrastructure has been built to transport oil, natural gas and water from extraction regions/facilities or from port terminals to consumer markets. The demand for pipeline transport of oil, gas and water are each quite different in many regards.
Oil producing countries which extract large quantities of crude oil tend to construct pipelines to refineries and/or to maritime terminals for export. The demand for oil pipelines evolves as oil extraction regions evolve and change. In recent years, higher oil prices have rendered off-shore and unconventional methods ("fracking", horizontal drilling, tight sands and oil sands) of oil extraction commercially viable. Using these methods, as extraction volumes have increased in regions with previously little or no oil production volumes, this has also created demand for potentially new oil pipeline infrastructure. However, the geographic dispersion, sensitivities to world oil prices and faster depletion rates related to some of these extraction methods all contribute to challenges in developing pipelines for the transport of this oil.
Historically, gas has been transported mainly overland (or underground/undersea) through pipelines from gas extraction regions to consumer markets. Particularly in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe and Asia), extensive transmission networks and distribution grids have been constructed to efficiently transport natural gas thousands of kilometers. More recently, given the surplus of gas supply in regions (in particular USA and Middle East) that are inadequately connected to other world markets via pipeline, liquification and/or compression of natural gas (LNG/CNG) suitable for global maritime shipment has also become a developing trend.
As the world's population centers grow in certain regions of the world that have inadequate local potable water (either from aquifers or freshwater rivers, streams or lakes), the demand for water pipelines and aqueducts is increasing and is expected to increase further. In regions that are underserved by potable water, but are near salt water bodies, policy makers must decide whether to build desalination plants or develop water pipeline/aqueduct infrastructure (and also capital intensive dams/reservoirs). Desalination technology is energy intensive. In certain regions that are energy-rich and water-deficient (such as the Middle East), constructing desalination plants can be clearly viable. However, in many other regions (such as Southwestern USA) desalination may not be cost competitive with piped water unless very cheap energy prices persist. These decisions must also take into account the environmental, agricultural, economic and geopolitical consequences of diverting watersheds.
DCS experts cover all facets of the pipeline sector. We assist both public and private sector clients in evaluating, planning, financing, developing, constructing, operating and managing oil, water and gas pipelines. In many cases, such pipelines can be considered strategic national assets and are also in many cases part of a transnational pipeline network (e.g. the Eurasian and North American interconnected gas networks). There has also been an initiative to build expanded LNG/CNG terminal, gasification and re-gasification infrastructure at many ports around the world. Regional market access to LNG/CNG sources can have profound impacts including changes in the directional gas flows, and with respect to supplier sources and diversification of imported gas flows. In addition to the commercial and technical challenges of developing pipelines, all of these factors introduce unique geopolitical challenges that need to be adequately addressed. DCS experts have the skill sets necessary to advise pipeline project developers, sponsors and governments/governmental agencies on the many facets that need to be considers in the pipeline sector. Here, the scope of our advisory services go far beyond simply providing excellent transaction and project advisory services for pipeline projects. Pipeline projects must be considered as part of a long-term strategic energy plan within countries or regions. Complementing our knowledge and skill sets in the pipeline sector, our resources in the areas of oil and gas and the ports sectors can be also brought in to cover related upstream, downstream and maritime transport aspects.
Supplementing our own extensive skill sets, DCS experts also maintain relationships with related pipeline sector project external consultants and participants including: both international and local legal advisors; technical, engineering and environmental/social advisors, economic/market consultants; contractors, vendors and technology providers; strategic and financial equity sponsors; lenders (including commercial lenders, international/development financial institutions (IFIs/DFIs), Export Credit Agencies and Export-Import Banks (ECA/Ex-IMs), institutional lenders, bond funds and investment banks) and credit rating agencies (if applicable). We are always prepared and highly experienced in taking on a lead transaction advisory or project/program management role where we coordinate and manage (in many cases, procure and retain via subcontract) various technical, legal, commercial, tax and other consultants required for the project. On behalf of our clients we are also prepared and accustomed to leading and concluding negotiations with diverse stakeholders such as oil, gas and water suppliers, utilities, governmental/public sector or equity sponsors/concessionaires, developers, investors, contractors and venders, lenders, rating agencies and regulators, as may be relevant for a given project.
We think of the "infrastructure business" of owning, operating and maintaining pipeline infrastructure, as a separate and distinct business from the businesses which utilize pipelines, involved in the transmission, distribution, sales, supply and trading of gas, oil and water. In many cases, oil & gas companies and utility companies that own pipelines can and should consider divesting their pipeline infrastructure assets and focus on their core service businesses. Pipelines are a capital intensive long-term infrastructure assets, that may be attractively sold to long-tenor investors including infrastructure funds (debt and equity), pensions, insurance majors, sovereign wealth funds and similar investor types. Divesting of pipeline asset can allow oil & gas companies and utilities to focus on their core businesses.
We take a multi-dimensional approach to advising our pipelines sector clients. In most client cases, there may also be a significant nexus between pipeline infrastructure facilities and other relevant sectors that we specialize in, such as transportation (interconnected multimodal networks: roadway, rail and electricity transmission corridors, and marine and inland ports); telecommunications (communications towers, fiber optic networks), energy & utilities (gas and water transmission, distribution, sales & supply and trading utility elements; solar, wind and compressor station waste heat recovery); water & wastewater, oil & gas (oil & gas producers and suppliers, LNG/CNG terminals); E&C (contractors) and heavy industries (heavy equipment and commodities suppliers). We are prepared to bring our complementary expertise in these other sectors to our road sector clients, as their specific project may benefit. There may be many collaborative partnership opportunities between diverse companies and public and private service providers, who may also have synergistic objectives and opportunities related to pipeline infrastructure assets and systems. We can help our clients expand the horizons of their project and analyze and understand synergistic economic and commercial impacts related to pipeline infrastructure assets and services. This will also help forge potential new innovative partnerships with both private and public sector parties, where significant added-value can be realized.
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DCS focuses on providing the above services in the pipelines infrastructure segment to the following categories of clients: