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Top U.S. LNG Producer Wants Exemption From Pollution Limit

Cheniere Energy, the largest LNG producer in the U.S., has requested from the Biden Administration an exemption from an EPA pollutant limit on the gas-fired turbines it uses, so it won’t be forced to shut some capacity, Reuters reported on Friday, quoting documents it had reviewed.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes, as of August, two types of stationary gas-fired turbines in the rule for limits on air pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzene. Cheniere, the top American LNG exporter, uses such turbines at its facilities in Texas and Louisiana, and has asked the EPA this spring to exempt it from the rule. That’s because the turbines cannot easily be fitted with pollution control equipment, Cheniere says.

In one letter to the EPA in March, seen by Reuters, the company says:

“Potentially imposing significant costs and operational disruption on the U.S. LNG industry at the same time the administration is focused on Europe’s strategic need to break its reliance on Russian gas is counterproductive.”

The request would be a dilemma for the Biden Administration, which seeks to limit emissions at home and, at the same time, help EU allies replace as much Russian pipeline natural gas as soon as possible.

A slowdown in U.S. LNG shipments is the last thing Europe needs right now as it scrambles to get any non-Russian gas to stock up ahead of the winter.

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The EU has been importing record volumes of American LNG in recent months, although analysts say LNG imports alone cannot replace Russian pipeline gas.

For the first time ever, the European Union imported in June more LNG from the United States than gas via pipeline from Russia, as Moscow slashed supply to Europe earlier this month, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said last week.

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“Russia’s recent steep cuts in natural gas flows to the EU mean this is the 1st month in history in which the EU has imported more gas via LNG from the US than via pipeline from Russia,” Birol tweeted last week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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