U.S. Natural Gas Exports Could Surge If DOE Approves Applications
Kilzer, Lou, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
About one-fifth of the United States' annual natural gas production could be shipped to India, Japan, China and other countries if the Department of Energy approves an increasing number of applications from companies that want to establish export terminals, a senior department official told the Tribune-Review.
Applicants began requesting permission to export American natural gas late last year. The latest and biggest application arrived a week ago, said John Anderson, manager of natural gas regulatory activities at DOE's Office of Fossil Fuels.
That application, from Gulf Coast LNG Export LLC, asks to export 2.8 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas daily to countries with which the United States has no free-trade agreements.
Gulf Coast LNG appears to be a mystery company. The DOE has not posted the application on its docket board, so Anderson told the Trib on Tuesday that he is reluctant to name those involved.
The Gulf Coast LNG application came shortly after one filed on Dec. 19 by Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P and FLNG Liquefaction LLC. The two companies now want to export 2.8 billion cubic feet per day from a Texas port -- double the amount of gas the companies had earlier sought permission to export.
The two December applications confirm previous reports by the Trib about an exploding interest in sending American natural gas abroad.
In May, the DOE gave its first and only approval to export natural gas to Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC. Sabine, with a right to ship 2.2 billion cubic feet a day from a Louisiana port, Sabine has already signed contracts with companies in India, Great Britain and Spain to export American natural gas. In all, nine export applications have been filed.
Anderson said the department will grant no further approvals until two studies it commissioned are completed in the first quarter of 2012 examining the "impact on consumption, the economy, GDP and balance of trade." The U.S. Energy Information Administration and a private firm are conducting the studies.
Price impact is key, he said, as is "the energy security of the United States."
Those hoping to export argue that America is awash in natural gas because of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques that revolutionized gas production from deep shale formations. …