The US may squander an important energy and economic opportunity if it takes too long to begin exporting LNG, US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) warned on Aug. 6 as she released a white paper on the subject.
“We’ve carefully examined the issue of natural gas exports, weighing the evidence and listening to all points of view, but the analytical debate is now over,” said Murkowski, the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee’s ranking minority member. “The United States has a historic opportunity to generate enormous geopolitical and economic benefits by expanding its role in the global gas trade.”
The US Department of Energy has received more than 20 applications to export LNG to countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the US, she noted. Diplomats from many of them, including Japan and India, have urged the Obama administration to approve export licenses as quickly as possible, Murkowski said.
“We meet with foreign delegations on a regular basis, and they routinely express their concerns over long delays, as well as the uncertainty surrounding the timeline for review,” she said. “As a nation, we need to send a clear and resounding message that the United States is a reliable trading partner and is ready to do business.”
Other gas-rich nations are building their export capabilities already, Murkowski observed. Qatar, Malaysia, Australia, and many others already dominate the LNG trade. Facilities required to liquefy natural gas for transport, however, are expensive, and also require costly infrastructure to import it, she said.
“Limits on demand and the availability of financing create a narrowing window for the United States,” Murkowski said. “If we don’t move quickly, we may miss that window, and it may be a long time before it opens up again.”
Her white paper is the culmination of hearings and roundtable the Energy and Natural Resource Committee has held over the past year. Murkowski said questions and comments about it may be directed to members of the committee’s minority staff.
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