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U.S. Moves Ahead On Gas Exports

Energy: First natural gas terminal approved for West Coast

by Jeff Johnson
March 31, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 13

Photo of an LNG tanker.
Credit: Shutterstock
The U.S. government continues to push for more LNG exports, which are carried in LNG tankers.

The first West Coast terminal to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) was approved last week by the Department of Energy. The Jordon Cove facility is planned for Coos Bay, Ore., an industrial area on the south-central Oregon coast.

The Canadian firm Veresen Inc. and several partners hope to have the $6.8 billion, 0.8 billion-cu-ft-per-day plant on-line in 2019.

In all, DOE has approved seven new or expanded LNG facilities with a total capacity to export around 10 billion cu ft per day of natural gas. To date, only one of these facilities is under construction; the rest still need to clear environmental assessments.

Another 24 facilities have applications pending before DOE. If all are approved and built, the U.S. could export about 38 billion cu ft per day of natural gas, which is half the nation’s current natural gas production, says the Energy Information Administration.

Most in Congress back DOE’s approval, but some in the chemical industry say it is a “grievous error.”

America’s Energy Advantage—a coalition of U.S. manufacturers that includes Dow Chemical, Huntsman Corp., Eastman Chemical, and Celanese—warned that natural gas exports will raise prices and put “billions of dollars of investment and millions of jobs at risk.”

“Stable and affordable natural gas is powering an American manufacturing comeback,” the group said.

But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) applaud the approval and the resulting jobs and construction investments. Wyden said, however, that DOE must continue to closely monitor the impact of exports on domestic gas prices.

Landrieu urged DOE to streamline the approval process, to “reduce the stronghold that countries, like Russia, currently exercise over their neighbors.”

She was alluding to a growing effort in Congress and by President Barack Obama to use new U.S. fossil-fuel reserves to limit the geopolitical and economic impact of Russia’s oil and natural gas resources. For example, concern over the recent tension between Russia and Ukraine sparked four hearings last week in the House of Representatives and Senate to consider easing restrictions and exporting more natural gas.



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