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The Department of Energy has given Cheniere Energy the green light to export more liquefied natural gas from its facilities in Texas and Louisiana "to every country entirely in Europe."
"The world needs every molecule it can get," the AP quoted American Petroleum Institute vice president for natural gas markets as saying.
Europe is urgently seeking to reduce its dependence on Russian gas amid the war in Ukraine, and U.S. liquefied natural gas is one readily available alternative, at least for the time being.
U.S. LNG producers are already exporting record amounts of gas, and Europe is their biggest buyer. Meanwhile, export capacity will be expanding, too.
With this expansion, by the end of 2022, U.S. nominal capacity will increase to 11.4 billion cubic feet per day and peak capacity to 13.9 billion cu ft per day across seven LNG export facilities and 44 liquefaction trains, the Energy Information Administration said in December. That will be more than the respective capacities of Qatar and Australia, the other two largest LNG exporters in the world.
Commenting on the permit secured from the Department of Energy, Cheniere said, as quoted by the AP, that it "will allow for additional operational flexibility for us and our customers during this pivotal time and for decades to come."
According to the new permit, Cheniere can export the equivalent of 20.4 million cubic meters of natural gas to any country with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement, including all of Europe.
The Department of Energy has forecast a 20-percent increase in U.S. LNG exports this year thanks to new capacity. The country is already the world's largest LNG exporter, the DoE also said.
"While U.S. exporters are already exporting at or near their maximum capacity, with today's issuances, every operating U.S. LNG export project has approval from DOE to export its full capacity to any country where not prohibited by U.S. law or policy," the Department also said.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.