U.S. Gas Exports Would Be a Global Boon, Foreign Energy Leaders Say

WASHINGTON - MAY 06: House Energy and Commerce Committee's Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush (D-IL) (L) listens to ranking member Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) question witnesses during a hearing about 'The Motor Vehicle Safety Act.' May 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. In the wake of Toyota recalling more than 8 million cars worldwide, Congress is pushing the auto industry to meet new safety standards and impose tougher penalties on car companies that fail to quickly report safety defects to the government. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
National Journal
Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
Oct. 10, 2013, 1:56 p.m.

Del­eg­ates from 10 coun­tries — in­clud­ing Hun­gary, Haiti, In­dia, Ja­pan, and Thai­l­and — ar­gued for in­creased U.S. ex­ports of li­que­fied nat­ur­al gas to in­crease glob­al en­ergy se­cur­ity and strengthen dip­lo­mat­ic ties dur­ing a Thursday for­um con­vened by the House En­ergy and Com­merce Sub­com­mit­tee on En­ergy and Power.

Del­eg­ates from Hun­gary and the Czech Re­pub­lic said ex­pan­ded LNG ex­ports would bring U.S. gas in­to com­pet­i­tion with Rus­sia, the ma­jor sup­pli­er of oil and gas in east­ern Europe. In­creased com­pet­i­tion, they ar­gued, would drive down gas prices to the be­ne­fit of con­sumers.

“We need to have more com­pet­i­tion to have af­ford­able en­ergy prices,” said An­ita Orb­an, am­bas­sad­or-at-large for en­ergy se­cur­ity for the Hun­gari­an Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs.

Rep­res­ent­at­ives from Ja­pan and Singa­pore also called for in­creased U.S. LNG ex­ports, say­ing it would help di­ver­si­fy do­mest­ic en­ergy mar­kets.

“We are a small is­land state with no en­ergy en­dow­ments of our own,” said Ashok Ku­mar Mir­puri, Singa­pore’s am­bas­sad­or to the U.S.

Ac­cord­ing to Mir­puri, Singa­pore gets most of its nat­ur­al gas from Malay­sia and In­done­sia but hopes to ex­pand the num­ber of coun­tries it buys from so as not to be­come overly de­pend­ent on any one state.

“We’ve in­ves­ted in an LNG ter­min­al in May of this year,” he said, adding: “We’re mak­ing the ne­ces­sary in­vest­ments in or­der to have the LNG sup­ply to di­ver­si­fy our en­ergy needs.”

The second ar­gu­ment ad­vanced by the del­eg­ates in fa­vor of ex­pan­ded U.S. LNG ex­port activ­ity was that it would im­prove U.S. dip­lo­mat­ic re­la­tions abroad.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, In­dia’s deputy chief of mis­sion, told sub­com­mit­tee mem­bers that up­ping ex­ports would cre­ate “a strong and mu­tu­ally re­ward­ing en­ergy part­ner­ship and fur­ther our ties to the be­ne­fit of both our coun­tries.”

“It’s not only about li­que­fied nat­ur­al gas,” ad­ded Ahn Ho-Young, South Korea’s am­bas­sad­or to the United States. “It would open the pos­sib­il­ity of strength­en­ing re­la­tions between Korea and the U.S. in many dif­fer­ent areas.”

House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton, R-Mich., agreed that in­creased LNG ex­ports would be a boon to the U.S. for both eco­nom­ic and dip­lo­mat­ic reas­ons.

“It is my hope that we can use this op­por­tun­ity to bet­ter ex­plore how mov­ing for­ward with Amer­ic­an en­ergy ex­ports can help strengthen our ties with for­eign na­tions while at the same time provid­ing mu­tu­al be­ne­fits do­mest­ic­ally here in the U.S. with ad­ded job cre­ation and con­tin­ued en­ergy self-suf­fi­ciency,” Up­ton said in his open­ing re­marks.

En­ergy and Power Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Whit­field, R-Ky., ac­know­ledged that some in­terest groups op­pose ac­cel­er­at­ing ap­prov­al for U.S. LNG ex­port ter­min­als, but he took the po­s­i­tion that a move to boost ex­ports would be in the U.S. in­terest.

“In polit­ics, there are two sides, and there are groups that want the U.S. to move slowly in ex­port­ing gas to oth­er coun­tries… [but] we think we can be­ne­fit from it,” Whit­field said.

The for­um saw bi­par­tis­an sup­port for the is­sue, with Rep. Jerry McNer­ney, D-Cal­if., af­firm­ing sup­port for ac­cel­er­ated ex­port per­mit­ting. “I think we should move for­ward with de­vel­op­ing nat­ur­al gas ex­ports,” he said.

McNer­ney did raise the con­cern, however, that if the U.S dis­trib­utes in­creased stores of nat­ur­al gas abroad it may not know wheth­er the re­cip­i­ent na­tions have the prop­er in­fra­struc­ture to ab­sorb the gas without gen­er­at­ing pipeline spills or oth­er forms of pol­lu­tion.

“The one cau­tion is that we live in an area where we can no longer dump car­bon and oth­er green­house gases with com­plete aban­don,” McNer­ney said.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has so far ap­proved four LNG ex­port ter­min­als to ship nat­ur­al gas abroad, with three ter­min­als ap­proved this year.

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