US Review of LNG Exports to Take ‘Months, Not Years’
The Biden administration’s review of criteria for approving liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications is expected to take “months, not years,” a senior Energy Department official said last week.
“We’re going to do it as quickly as we possibly can,” Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The review, announced in late January (see 2401260070), will incorporate the expertise of several national laboratories, Turk testified. It also will provide a public comment period.
With U.S. LNG exports increasing rapidly, the administration wants to examine several factors, including the impact of that growth on climate change and domestic prices and whether the expanding supply could exceed demand, Turk said. But the administration’s decision to pause pending decisions on LNG exports while it conducts the review has drawn objections from congressional Republicans, who say the freeze could force allies in Europe and elsewhere to buy LNG from Russia and Iran (see 2402070082).
“With his moratorium, President Biden is trying to commit energy suicide for America and for the West,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said at a news conference after the Senate hearing.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said that if the national security supplemental appropriations bill the Senate is considering becomes open to amendment, he plans to offer one to eliminate the pause.
At the hearing, Turk testified that he feels “very comfortable” that the U.S. has sufficient LNG capacity to meet the needs of its allies in Europe and Asia. He said U.S. LNG exports have more than tripled to 14 billion cubic feet per day since 2018, making the U.S. the world’s largest LNG exporter. That figure is poised to increase to up to 26 billion cubic feet per day by 2030 due to projects under construction.
However, James Watson, secretary general of Brussels-based Eurogas, which represents Europe's natural gas wholesale, retail and distribution sectors, testified that the pause has created uncertainty about whether the continent can count on the U.S. to eliminate its reliance on Russian natural gas.
“We would like to have a better understanding of why a pause has been declared in the middle of winter, which is in Europe the peak gas season,” Watson said. Europeans would also like “to understand how long this will take [and] what is the likely outcome. Is there an outcome at one point that says actually no more gas will be coming from the United States?”
Asian customers of U.S. LNG are asking similar questions, said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Natural Gas Supply Association’s Center for LNG in Washington, D.C. "With this pause, we risk damaging our relationships with our allies, especially when we undermine commitments to assist other nations with their energy security," Riedl testified.