Morgan Stanley plans natural gas export facility

Financial services giant Morgan Stanley has filed plans to build a Texas facility to export compress natural gas to Caribbean nations.

The plant would be one of the first to export compressed natural gas (CNG) from the United States, Reuters reported Friday.

Debate over exporting natural gas has mostly centered on liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is colder and has more energy by volume, but is also more expensive to produce and involves larger facilities.

Morgan Stanley filed paperwork for the plant in May with the Energy Department, Reuters said. The plant would be able to ship 60 million cubic feet of CNG per year.

By building the plant, the company would be taking advantage of its position as one of two banking companies that can own and operate infrastructure for commodities.

The facility would export only to countries with which the United States has a free-trade agreement, Reuters said, which would skirt the “public interest” determination process the Energy Department must undertake for exports to non-free-trade agreement countries.

Natural gas could serve as a cheaper alternative for Caribbean countries that rely on burning oil for electricity generation.

A source familiar with the plans told Reuters Morgan Stanley’s facility would cost $30 million to $50 million to build, compared with the multi-billion-dollar LNG terminals.