This week in energy, the prospect of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports gain momentum in Washington with final federal approval for two more projects in Louisiana and Florida thanks to a tweaking of legislation.
On Wednesday, the US Department of Energy approved final permits for Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG facility in Louisiana and Carib Energy’s small-scale export project in Florida, making them the second and third LNG export projects to win final federal approval.
The first to win a final permit to export LNG to non-Free-Trade Agreement countries was Cheniere’s Sabine Pass project in Louisiana, which was approved in 2012. Since then, some two dozen projects have waited for final approval.
Cameron will be allowed to export up to 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas for up to 20 years through its $10-billion project.
For Cameron, this was some significant fast-tracking helped by pressure from Congress to speed things up and the resulting Energy Department decision in August to streamline and prioritize applications. Essentially, it put those projects that already had environmental reviews and construction permits to the top of the list for federal approval. Cameron had received its construction permit in June. With this tweaking of the process, Cameron would have had to wait for a lengthy public interest determination.
The pressure on Washington is indeed growing because the race to the finish for LNG exports is a tight one and will have a major impact on long-term contracts.
Australian projects in particular are warily eyeing the two new LNG export approvals in the US and Russian progress towards the same, because it may force them to renegotiate long-term contracts already in play due to a future LNG glut.
In Australia, Chevron is have a hard time winning 20-year sales contracts for LNG from its Gorgon export plant because potential buyers see which way the winds are blowing and think they might get it cheaper if they hold out a bit. And they’re probably right. But for Chevron, this could be a blow—especially considering that the Gorgon project has a lot of costs to recoup as the world’s most expensive LNG undertaking to date.
This week we also look at Canada’s LNG prospects, and what Keith Schaefer depicts as the countdown to get massive projects off the ground.
There are at least 14 proposals to export LNG off Canada's west coast, and another one to export Canadian gas down to Oregon and ship it to Asia from there.
In this heated race, the general consensus is that Washington will have to speed things up a bit more. But the good news is that the ranks of the Democrats are growing with those who believe in US LNG exports, and the general consensus is that we will see an up-tick in the momentum to approve these languishing projects—soon.
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By. James Stafford of Oilprice.com