Demand for oil and natural gas is rising at a rapid pace due to the increase in consumption of energy. Transportation of these hazardous material is a big industry in itself. Pipelines is the commonly used method of transportation of these energy sources. Pipelines are capital intensive transportation infrastructure; however, their operational expenditure and ability to transport large volumes to large distances make them a feasible choice for transportation. Companies across the globe are investing in pipelines to cater to the demand for oil and gas, and also to connect these demand centers to suppliers of energy sources.
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Sometimes, it is not possible to lay a pipeline due some technical or terrain issues. Thus, construction of pipelines can be capital intensive or might not always be technically feasible. In such a scenario, a new technology called virtual pipeline has been gaining popularity, generally for transportation of natural gas, in areas lacking pipeline infrastructure. Virtual pipelines can be considered an alternate to the physical pipeline infrastructure. Virtual pipelines can imitate the constant flow of energy in a physical pipeline with the transportation of natural gas by means of trucks or ships.
Virtual pipelines have the ability of starting from small scale systems and scaling them up for a comparatively reasonable trade off on costs related to per unit output. Physical pipelines are confined to their respective geographies, while virtual pipelines offer flexibility in terms of their ability to serve shifting demand centers if the port, road, or rail infrastructure permits. Aging physical pipeline infrastructure and increasing demand for natural gas as a cleaner alternative to other existing fossil fuels are expected to boost the demand for virtual pipeline systems during the forecast period globally.
In terms of application, the virtual pipeline system market can be segmented into industrial, transportation, and commercial & residential. The industrial segment consists of various industrial sectors such as power generation, fertilizers, and other sectors that require natural gas for operations. The transportation segment comprises natural gas based automobiles, which are gaining popularity due to lesser emissions produced by them in comparison to their petrol and diesel counterparts. The commercial & residential segment includes sectors that require natural gas for usage such as space heating, cooling, and small scale power generation.
Based on region, the virtual pipeline system market can be divided into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific is expected to lead the market during the forecast period, followed by North America. This dominance in the market by Asia Pacific can primarily be ascribed to China, which has a large network of virtual pipelines owing to the presence of an extensive network of CNG stations. The virtual pipeline system market in Asia Pacific is estimated to expand at a significant rate during the forecast period due to the increase in demand for natural gas as a cleaner alternative for other fossil fuels. China and India are expected to drive the growth of the market in Asia Pacific due the rise in government regulations and increase in investments for natural gas as fuel in these countries.
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Key companies operating in the virtual pipeline system market include Galileo Technologies S.A., Broadwind Energy, Inc., General Electric, SUB161°, XPRESS NATURAL GAS LLC, NG Advantage, Compass Natural Gas, REV LNG, Irving Oil, and Global Partners LP.
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