Trump signals intention to achieve American 'energy dominance'

July 10, 2017
US President Donald Trump announced a series of actions aimed at achieving not just American energy independence but dominance.

US President Donald Trump announced a series of actions aimed at achieving not just American energy independence but dominance. The initiatives include opening federal offshore areas to oil and gas development under a 2019-24 leasing program, building a crude oil pipeline to Mexico, and authorizing more LNG exports sooner, he told government, business, and labor leaders at the US Department of Energy.

"This country's energy abundance belongs not to the government but to the American people. I have been trying to remove job-killing obstructions on energy production since I became president," Trump said. "We're ending job-killing [US Environmental Protection Agency] regulations that raised energy prices and harmed American families."

US Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke quickly announced a request for information (RFI) will be published in the July 3 Federal Register as the first step in preparing a new US Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program under the president's Apr. 28 Executive Order on Offshore Energy.

The 2017-22 OCS program, which became final on Jan. 17, will remain in effect until the 2019-24 program is completed, the secretary said.

"Developing a new national offshore oil and gas leasing program that respects environmental and economic sensitivities but still allows us to responsibly develop our resources is critical to reaching President Trump's goal of American energy dominance," Zinke said.

'Just a first step'

National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi quickly expressed his approval. "The RFI is just the first step in a multiyear process that will involve several rounds of public participation from stakeholders, including local communities, as well as several layers of environmental review. It is also important to note this launches a process to determine a future leasing schedule, not a future drilling schedule," he said.

"Future decisions on possible drilling must undergo their own series of public and environmental reviews," said Luthi, who was US Minerals Management Service director during George W. Bush's second presidential term.

Acting US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Walter D. Cruickshank confirmed that the announced first step would not involve scheduling lease sales in particular areas or make any decisions about which areas will be included. "The RFI considers all areas of the OCS and provides an opportunity for interested parties to submit comments and suggestions about the potential for leasing and to identify environmental and other concerns and uses that may be affected by offshore leasing," he said.

Trump also mentioned that DOE approved two long-term applications to export an additional 330 MMcfd of LNG from the Lake Charles, La., liquefaction project to any country not prohibited by US law or policy (OGJ Online, June 30, 2017). DOE said in its announcement that it previously authorized the Lake Charles companies to export as much as 2 bcf of gas equivalent of LNG to such countries.

LNG sales to South Korea

The president also said that subsidiaries of Sempra Energy in San Diego and Australia-based Woodside Petroleum Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Gas Corp. for development of a proposal gas liquefaction project in Port Arthur, Tex.

The two companies said the MOU provides a framework for cooperation and joint discussion regarding key aspects of the Port Arthur project, including engineering and construction works, operations and maintenance activities, feed gas sourcing, offtake of LNG, and Korea Gas as a potential purchaser of LNG from, and equity participant in, the Port Arthur project.

'Highly regulated process'

Leaders from other major oil and gas groups welcomed Trump's energy policy commitment. "Smart, effective policies, such as prioritizing US potential for expanding natural gas exports, will help create jobs here at home and provide energy security to US allies all while allowing our nation's energy renaissance to continue benefitting American consumers, workers, and the environment," American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said.

Meanwhile, Daniel T. Naatz, senior vice-president of government relations and political affairs at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said, "Offshore production is a highly regulated process that is underscored by advanced technological innovation and a commitment to our environment and safety. IPAA has long-advocated for opening access to all areas of the OCS, including the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Mid-Atlantic, and Alaska's waters."