LNG exports, natural gas vehicles on the horizon: speakers

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The abundance of US natural gas will create new markets for its use, such as liquefied natural gas exports and as a motor vehicle fuel, speakers at a pipeline conference in Houston said Wednesday.

"We see exports of LNG by 2016," Adam Bedard, a senior director of energy analysis at Bentek Energy, said at the Pipeline Opportunities Conference, sponsored by Pipeline and Gas Journal and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.

Bentek Energy is a unit of Platts.

Gas would also increase its share of the power generation market relative to coal, because the former gas is cleaner and less expensive than coal, Bedard said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Bedard said market conditions favor the export of gas via existing LNG import terminals, which are racing each other to add liquefaction and export capabilities.

"Look at all of the LNG facilities that are pursuing reversing their facilities; there are about seven," he said.

One of these, Cheniere Energy Partners' Sabine Pass LNG import terminal in Louisiana "is further along than the rest because it's been granted approval," Bedard said. The Department of Energy granted the terminal the approval to trade with countries with which the US has a free trade agreement in September 2010 and with non-free trade countries in May 2011.

Sabine Pass plans to export 2.2 Bcf/d for at least 20 years.

Bedard said gas market fundamentals all point to the export of gas from the US to gas-hungry world markets.

"Gas prices here remain low; supplies are in abundance; we're going to test the limits of storage and operators are shutting in. So on the supply side the US is well supplied," he said.

"On the export side, they're getting the necessary approvals and there's a big market overseas for it," Bedard said. "So if you believe in rational markets and if this country can allow it to happen, it will certainly happen."

However, some members of Congress and some representatives of the manufacturing industries that use gas as a feedstock have called for a prohibition against its export, claiming that exports would harm US consumers.

"I think that's a protectionist view," Bedard said. "We have a big current accounts deficit in this country. As we export natural gas, it will help us as a country. It will strengthen our current accounts balance and our positioning in the world."

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