Natural-Gas Export Project Gets Green Light

JAKARTA, INDONESIA: A fishing boat sails past a ship tanker of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at a port in Jakarta, 12 December 2005. Indonesia's state oil and gas firm Pertamina has rescheduled next year's exports LNG to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other countries due to falling output, a company spokesman said. Pertamina will reschedule the delivery of 61 shipments, 52 from its plant in Bontang, East Kalimantan, and nine from Arun in Aceh in 2006, Pertamina spokesman M. Harun told AFP. 
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Amy Harder
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Amy Harder
Feb. 11, 2014, 6:45 a.m.

On the same day that Sen. Mary Landrieu took the gavel of the Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee, a nat­ur­al-gas ex­port pro­ject in Louisi­ana re­ceived the green light from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The two de­vel­op­ments, which oc­curred just hours apart on Tues­day, are big boosts for Landrieu as she seeks reelec­tion in Louisi­ana, a state that’s red­der now than it was the last time she ran six years ago.

At an event in Wash­ing­ton, Landrieu she said she was “thrilled” about the ap­prov­al. In a pre­pared state­ment, she de­scribed the an­nounce­ment as “long over­due, but a wel­come ad­di­tion to the ro­bust en­ergy in­dustry we are build­ing in Louisi­ana.”

The En­ergy De­part­ment’s ap­prov­al of the Louisi­ana pro­ject, owned by Cali­for­nia-based Sem­pra En­ergy, is the sixth nat­ur­al-gas ex­port ter­min­al that serves coun­tries that aren’t free-trade part­ners with the U.S. More than 20 ap­plic­a­tions are still pending.  

This an­nounce­ment comes a week after Re­pub­lic­ans on the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee urged the ad­min­is­tra­tion to speed up ap­prov­al of nat­ur­al-gas ex­ports, cit­ing eco­nom­ic and geo­pol­it­ic­al be­ne­fits.

The ap­prov­al could in­flame a de­bate that’s been brew­ing in Wash­ing­ton in re­cent years. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Demo­crat, has ex­pressed con­cern over the pace of ap­provals and has con­sidered put­ting a hold on con­firm­a­tion of a top En­ergy De­part­ment of­fi­cial be­cause of these con­cerns.

Dow Chem­ic­al, an in­ter­na­tion­al chem­ic­al man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany whose headquar­ters are in Michigan, has been es­pe­cially vo­cal in op­pos­ing un­fettered ex­ports. Dow and oth­er com­pan­ies that use nat­ur­al gas as a feed­stock, such as alu­min­um-maker Al­coa, are con­cerned that ex­port­ing the fossil fuel could raise do­mest­ic prices, which have been near re­cord lows be­cause of the nat­ur­al-gas boom in the last sev­er­al years.

Sen­ate En­vir­on­ment and Pub­lic Works rank­ing mem­ber Dav­id Vit­ter, R-La., also praised the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­prov­al on Tues­day, al­though he noted this isn’t the fi­nal sign-off. “This con­di­tion­al ap­prov­al means the Camer­on LNG pro­ject has taken an im­port­ant step in the right dir­ec­tion,” said Vit­ter in a state­ment. “I’ll con­tin­ue to push for fi­nal ap­prov­al to get this cut­ting-edge li­que­fied nat­ur­al gas pro­ject through the cum­ber­some fed­er­al reg­u­lat­ory pro­cess.” Vit­ter an­nounced last month he is run­ning for gov­ernor in Louisi­ana in 2015. 

Ben Geman contributed to this article.
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