Today, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Small Scale LNG Access Act (S.1981) to expedite the approval of exports of natural gas equal to or less than 51.1 billion cubic feet per year. These exports would be deemed consistent with the public interest and granted without modification or delay.
On September 1st, the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed a rule (RIN 19001-AB43) to expedite the approval of small-scale exports of natural gas. As stated by DOE, this proposed rule will primarily service consumers in small scale natural gas export markets in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The legislation introduced by Cassidy and Rubio would codify the DOE’s rule.
“This bill promotes the growth of American natural gas, creating well-paying jobs with good benefits for hardworking families in Louisiana,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The faster approval of small-scale natural gas shipments will create American jobs, improve Caribbean energy security and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Expedited approval of small-scale natural gas exports would strengthen an emerging sector of Florida’s economy,” said Rubio. “In addition to the economic advantages for Florida, this measure would bolster our existing ties with Caribbean and Latin American nations while ensuring that bad actors in the region, including Cuba and Venezuela, do not reap its benefits.”
Earlier this month, Cassidy along with U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John Barrasso (R-WY) sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry in support of DOE’s proposed rule (RIN 1901-AB43).
The Caribbean small-scale LNG export market represents a relatively untapped outlet as the United States only exported approximately three billion cubic feet of natural gas to the region in 2016. Increasing exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) will decrease Caribbean & Central American reliance on Venezuelan fuel oil, increase economic opportunities, and offer a cleaner-burning fuel source for those nations.
The United States is well positioned to meet the anticipated four to five percent annual growth in global natural gas demand. According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. has an estimated 2,355 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, enough to last an estimated 86 years at current consumption rates.
The current permitting process for LNG export facilities is expensive, and small-scale projects often are not cost effective under current conditions. 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.