General Electric invests in Texas shale gas pipeline operator

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Fri Mar 16, 2012 – General Electric Co. has sunk its teeth further into the energy infrastructure and services business by investing in Howard Energy Partners, a natural gas pipeline operator in the booming Eagle Ford shale fields of south Texas.

GE Energy Financial Services will pay an undisclosed amount for 30.6 percent of Howard, GE said on Thursday. Other investors include Crosstex Energy LP, Quanta Services Inc. and Clear Springs Energy Company LLC, and the deal is expected to close in April.

“The shale boom has created the need for a dramatic build out of oil and gas infrastructure in North America, requiring significant capital,” John Shepherd, a managing director at GE Energy Financial Services, said in a statement.

Howard will use the money to help fund its purchase of the natural gas gathering assets of Meritage Midstream Services in south Texas, GE said.

At the closing of that deal, Howard will own and operate 450 miles (724 km) of pipelines in the state, which can handle more than 175 million cubic feet per day, and the San Antonio, Texas-based company has plans to grow to meet demand.

The so-called “midstream,” referring to infrastructure that moves oil and gas from the wellhead to its buyers, has become a hot market with the growth of North American shale development.