Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan is joining up with El Paso in a new consolidation effort. What's inside the deal, and how will it impact shareholders?

The deal isn’t exactly new (the $21 billion deal -- $38 billion if you include El Paso’s outstanding debt -- was announced in October 2011) but now that the tumblers have fallen into place and the air has cleared, investors have a clearer picture what the merger will look like. The air from here looks pretty good, especially to Kinder Morgan and its shareholders.

For starters, Kinder Morgan now becomes the fourth-largest energy company in the U.S., as well as the largest midstream company in the country. It’s also well positioned for the presumed natural gas boom here in the U.S.

“We are delighted to close the El Paso transaction and we are very excited about the natural gas footprint that we now have in the United States with the addition of approximately 44,000 miles of natural gas pipelines from El Paso,” Richard D. Kinder, chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan said on May 25.

“We are bullish on the future of natural gas and believe that it will be the fuel of choice in America for many years to come. It’s domestically abundant, clean and cheap. As the largest transporter and storage operator of natural gas in the United States, we have many growth opportunities across the country, and we are eager to get to work to leverage these assets for the benefit of our customers, our shareholders and our employees.”

You can’t blame Kinder for getting pumped over the company’s future. He already knows the deal has brought with it a sweetener for shareholders -- a dividend increase of $1.40 per share, up from $1.35, and an expected an $0.35 per share dividend for the second quarter of 2012. The company will take the money for the dividend boost out of the anticipated cost savings of $400 million annually, savings directly attributable from the El Paso acquisition (up from a previously announced savings figure of $350 million per year).

Zacks Investment Research has the inside scoop on the deal. The firm says the largest obstacle overcome in getting a deal done was Kinder Morgan’s decision to divest El Paso’s exploration and production business (for $7.15 billion). The move, Zacks says, was key in allowing Kinder Morgan to “lower the debt incurred to fund