North America needs to build $23 billion of new natural gas-related infrastructure annually through 2035, according to a recent report. That works out to an estimated $230 billion of growth opportunities in the next 10 years alone, which bodes well for midstream companies focused on natural gas infrastructure since they should have plenty of room to expand. Three of the best positioned to capture this growth are Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI), Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB), and TransCanada (NYSE:TRP), making them great stocks to buy and hold in the coming decade.

Lots of gas-fueled growth coming down the pipeline

Kinder Morgan is already the largest natural gas pipeline company in North America, operating roughly 70,000 miles of pipeline. That network connects to every important natural gas resource in the country, which puts the company in a prime position to expand its footprint in the coming years. The pipeline giant currently has more than $4 billion of natural gas infrastructure projects under construction, including two recently sanctioned large-scale gas pipelines out of the Permian Basin.

The word buy in black letters on three wooden blocks

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Kinder Morgan believes that it can continue to capture additional natural gas growth projects in the coming years given its "unparalleled network of midstream assets," according to CEO Steve Kean. In recent years, the company has been able to secure an average of $1.3 billion of new projects per year. However, Kinder Morgan believes it can lock up $2 billion to $3 billion of expansions each year, which should enable the company to grow its earnings and dividend at a steady pace going forward.

Dual growth drivers

Williams Companies also operates a large-scale gas pipeline network, including Transco, which is one of the fastest-growing gas pipeline systems in the country. The company currently expects to invest $4.8 billion into expanding Transco through 2021 on a variety of projects that will pull supplies from the Marcellus shale while also pushing them to high-demand centers along the East Coast. On top of the projects it has already secured, Williams Companies is pursuing more than 20 additional opportunities to expand that pipeline to support new natural gas power plants, liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, and rising industrial demand.

In addition to continuing to grow Transco, Williams Companies also has several natural gas gathering and processing expansion projects both underway and in development. The company's joint venture in the Powder River Basin recently secured some new expansions that should come on line next year. Williams also recently made a high-value trade that should supply it with several new growth projects in Colorado's DJ Basin. On top of that, the company has several gathering and processing expansions in the northeast both in progress and in development. Williams' dual growth fuels of Transco and its gathering and processing business position the company to boost its dividend 10% to 15% next year and at a high rate in those to come.

A close-up of a gas pipeline under construction.

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A gas-powered dividend growth machine

TransCanada has one of the largest organic project backlogs in the industry, with it currently advancing 28 billion Canadian dollars ($21.6 billion) of near-term capital projects. The bulk of those investments are on new natural gas pipelines across North America. At the moment, the company is working on CA$7.4 billion ($5.7 billion) of expansions to its NGTL system in Western Canada, $6.1 billion of projects in the U.S., and another $2.8 billion in Mexico. These expansions position TransCanada to grow its dividend at an 8% to 10% annual rate through at least 2021.

However, the company has plenty of additional projects in the pipeline. One that it just recently sanctioned was Coastal GasLink, which will move gas from Western Canada to LNG Canada, which is an export facility that's under development. The CA$4.8 billion ($3.7 billion) project should start up by 2023, coinciding with the commissioning of LNG Canada. That project is part of the more than CA$20 billion ($15.4 billion) of longer-term projects it has under development, which also includes additional expansions of NGTL and its systems in the U.S. and Mexico as well as its oil pipelines. That massive backlog should give TransCanada the fuel to continue growing its dividend at a high rate for many more years to come.

Steady growth and income for the decade ahead

Kinder Morgan, Williams Companies, and TransCanada are among the largest natural gas pipeline companies in North America, which puts them in a prime position to benefit from that industry's growth over the next decade. On top of that, all three offer investors high-yielding dividends ranging between 4.5% to 5.3% that they each expect to increase at around a double-digit pace in the next couple of years. That combination of yield and growth should enrich investors in the decade ahead, making them great stocks to buy and hold.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.