US pauses decisions on LNG export terminals

The Biden administration will “temporary pause” pending decisions for liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals.

“My administration is announcing today a temporary pause on pending decisions of liquefied natural gas exports – with the exception of unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies,” the White House said in a statement.

The US will pause pending decisions on exports of LNG to non-FTA countries until the Department of Energy can update the underlying analyses for authorizations.

“During this period, we will take a hard look at the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and our environment. This pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time,” the statement said.

This move, which comes as President Joe Biden enters an election year, has been reported in several media reports this week and it could potentially delay final investment decisions on several projects.

The projects include Venture Global’s CP2 LNG terminal, which is awaiting the final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and also the non-FTA export authorization from the Department of Energy.

Responding to media reports earlier this week, a spokeswoman for Venture Global said that “such an action would shock the global energy market, having the impact of an economic sanction, and send a devastating signal to our allies that they can no longer rely on the United States.”

“The true irony is this policy would hurt the climate and lead to increased emissions as it would force the world to pivot to coal,” she said.

Texas-based Energy Transfer is also planning to take a final decision this year to build its Lake Charles LNG export facility in Louisiana, depending on the export approval by the DOE.

Moreover, Commonwealth LNG also aims to take FID this year on its 9.3 mtpa LNG facility under development in Cameron, Louisiana.

US LNG exports to Europe

The US is already the number one exporter of LNG worldwide – with US LNG exports expected to double by the end of this decade, the White House said.

“Today’s announcement will not impact our ability to continue supplying LNG to our allies in the near-term,” the statement said.

Last year, roughly half of US LNG exports went to Europe, and the US has worked with the EU to economize consumption and manage its storage to “ensure that unprovoked acts of aggression cannot threaten its supply,” it said.

The statement said that current economic and environmental analyses DOE uses to underpin its LNG export authorizations are roughly five years old and “no longer adequately account for considerations like potential energy cost increases for American consumers and manufacturers beyond current authorizations or the latest assessment of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The pause, which is subject to exception for unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies, will provide the time to integrate these “critical considerations”, the statement said.

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