Analysis: Companies may turn to courts on U.S. natural gas export push

Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:04am EDT
 
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By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. companies hoping to export natural gas are frustrated by lengthy delays and rule changes as they await U.S. Department of Energy approval of their applications and may turn to the courts to speed up the process.

Both the slow pace of decisions on applications to ship U.S. liquefied natural gas abroad and the process for making those decisions could be challenged, legal sources say.

Potential strategies could be laid out during a House of Representatives panel on Tuesday, which will focus on the current impediments to U.S. LNG exports.

The surge in shale gas production has helped make the United States a leading natural gas-producing nation, and potentially a major exporter. The Obama administration has cautiously embraced the energy boom, while promising to protect the economy from major price spikes from gas exports.

LNG exports are allowed to only a few countries with free-trade agreements with the United States. But others, including large consumers like Japan and India and those outside free-trade pacts, are keen to buy U.S. gas if the DOE approves.

Over a dozen projects are awaiting Energy Department permission to export gas to all countries. Four have been in limbo for between 18 and 25 months.

The industry welcomed approval of Freeport LNG's Quintana Island, Texas, terminal in May. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has said additional decisions will come this year and follow the order laid out by the department, without being more specific on the timing or number of decisions.

TROUBLE IN THE QUEUE?   Continued...

 
Natural gas flares are seen at an oil pump site outside of Williston, North Dakota March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton