Cassidy backs proposed Department of Energy rule on small-scale natural gas exports

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has voiced support for a proposed Department of Energy (DOE) rule that would streamline and expedite approval of small-scale natural gas export permits.

In an Oct. 5 letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Cassidy wrote that increased liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports would help create jobs, drive economic growth and offer a cleaner source of energy to Caribbean countries.

Cassidy, who serves on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, signed the letter with U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the chairman of the committee, and fellow committee member John Barrasso (R-WY).

“Companies involved in the U.S. natural gas industry, throughout the entire supply chain, stand to be major beneficiaries of this proposed rule,” the letter states. “As stated by the department, this proposed rule will primarily service consumers in small-scale natural gas export markets in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.”

The lawmakers wrote that the Caribbean small-scale LNG export market has been relatively untapped, given that in 2016 the United States exported only about 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the region.

Increasing exports of U.S. LNG “will decrease Caribbean and Central American reliance on Venezuelan fuel oil, increase economic opportunities and offer a cleaner-burning fuel source for those nations,” the letter said.

The senators cited U.S. Energy Information Administration data showing the United States has an estimated 2,355 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, which would last for 86 years at current consumption rates.

Exports, however, have been hampered by the current approval process, the senators said.

“The current permitting process for LNG export facilities is expensive, and small-scale projects often are not cost effective under current conditions,” the letter stated.

“Reducing the time and investment required for small-scale exports will benefit U.S. production, manufacturing and construction jobs while also reducing trade deficits with the importing country. Increasing LNG exports, even on a small scale, will positively impact the economies of the United States as well as the economies of those receiving U.S. natural gas,” the senators wrote.