Midstream assets, specifically pipelines and processing centers, play a crucial role in America's energy future. The industry is growing rapidly, and may play a crucial role in the future of your portfolio. There are many companies to keep an eye on, and it's an industry worth watching. Here's a recap of this week's highlights and lowlights.

Meeting of the minds
On Thursday, a who's who of the pipeline industry gathered in Bismarck, N.D., for the North Dakota Governor's Pipeline Summit. The meeting was meant to address the desperate need for pipeline capacity in the Bakken shale. Oil production in the region hit 609,000 barrels per day in April, but midstream capacity is only expected to reach 538,000 bpd by the end of 2012.

Many midstream companies are making significant investments to bring the Bakken up to speed. Oneok Partners (NYSE: OKS ) plans to plunk down $3.2 billion-$3.7 billion in the near future. Two of its projects include a 525-mile natural gas liquids pipeline from North Dakota to Colorado, and a 1,300-mile pipeline from Stanley, N.D., to Cushing, Okla. Oneok is an NGL-focused company and this will be its first oil pipeline.

Ye ol' soapbox
Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma, took a trip to Alberta, Canada, to tout the virtues of TransCanada's (NYSE: TRP ) Keystone XL pipeline to an energy exhibition. The southern leg of the pipeline that runs from Cushing in Fallin's state down to Port Arthur, Texas, is moving forward. The rest of the line, which begins in Alberta, is a different story. TransCanada hopes to gain approval for that leg by 2013, and complete construction by 2015. The company's new plan was submitted to the State Department in May.

Adding capacity in the Eagle Ford
Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMI ) announced that a new pipeline is now in service to bring 300,000 barrels of oil per day out of the Eagle Ford shale. Production out of the shale reached 30 million barrels last year, and the capacity is certainly needed.

The project cost $215 million and is made up of both new pipe and converted natural gas pipeline that will deliver oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Foolish takeaway
Midstream is where it's at, folks. The energy industry will spend an estimated $130 billion-$210 billion expanding natural gas infrastructure over the next 20 years. After all, the more oil and gas that flows through those pipelines and processing centers, the more cash there is to flow into your pockets. Stay on top of all the midstream action by adding the companies above to My Watchlist.


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