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Republican Senator John Barrasso (WY) plans on attaching his bill that authorizes more LNG exports to an aid package for Ukraine. Sen. Barraso originally introduced his bill back in 2012, but sees an opportunity to push it through with the unfolding crisis in Ukraine. The bill would put NATO allies on the same footing as free-trade countries when it comes to LNG exports, essentially green lighting exports to any NATO members. His language would include Ukraine as well, even though it is not part of NATO.
With the Senate set to consider an aid package for Ukraine, Sen. Barrasso plans to offer his bill as an amendment. He sees a political opportunity to accelerate what has been a steady but incremental approach to permitting LNG exports by the Department of Energy. Many Republicans as well as the oil and gas industry have cited Russia’s encroachment into Crimea as a geopolitical justification to boost LNG exports.
“As long as Ukraine and our NATO allies are overly dependent on Russian gas, Vladimir Putin will be able to hold them and their economies hostage,” Barrasso said. “Congress should respond by giving Ukraine as well as our NATO allies an alternative supply of natural gas.”
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The House passed the Ukrainian aid package which would supply $1 billion in loan guarantees. That version did not address LNG exports. Meanwhile, several central European countries have sent a letter to Congressional leaders. The ambassadors to Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging swifter approval of LNG permits to Europe.
The Department of Energy has thus far approved six permits for LNG exports to countries without which the U.S. has a free-trade agreement. DOE has indicated that it will continue evaluating permit applications in the order that they are received and the administration has not offered any sign that it will accelerate the process as a result of the situation in Ukraine.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com