Energy Department wants to speed ‘small-scale’ natural gas exports

Energy Department wants to speed ‘small-scale’ natural gas exports
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The Energy Department is proposing to streamline the approval process for companies that want to carry out “small-scale” exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Under a proposal published Friday in the Federal Register, companies would get automatic approval of gas export applications as long as the proposed exports are 140 million cubic feet per day or less and the Energy Department does not need to do an extensive environmental review.

The proposal comes as the Trump administration seeks to ramp up exports of fossil fuels produced in the United States under President Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda.

“The United States has an abundant supply of affordable natural gas that studies have shown will significantly exceed domestic demand. Meanwhile, foreign demand for natural gas imports from the United States has increased as many countries, such as those in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, seek to import cleaner sources of energy,” the department wrote in its proposal.

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“[The Energy Department] believes that facilitating small-scale natural gas exports will allow for greater diversity and competition in the natural gas market.”

The Energy Department is obligated to review requests to export natural gas from the contiguous United States to countries without U.S. free-trade agreements and determine whether such exports would be in the “public interest.”

Most of the applications to date have been for large-scale export projects, much larger than the small-scale definition the department is proposing.

But officials say there is a significant market for small-scale exports, particularly to other Western Hemisphere countries, and that they can be assumed to be in the public interest.

“Many of these countries do not generate enough natural gas demand to support the economies of scale required to justify large volumes of LNG imports from large-scale LNG terminals via conventional LNG tankers,” the department wrote.

The Friday proposal is open for public comment through Oct. 16.