The U.S. has vast amounts of LNG production capacity under construction; however the federal government's bureaucratic holdups to approve projects could mean U.S. companies lag behind in global trade.
The country has 50 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas, LNG, production capacity under construction, the global research and consulting company Wood Mackenzie said on its website on April 20. However, the federal government has not yet approved many projects which remain pending.
LNG deliveries in 2014 were around 243 million tonnes worldwide, the BG Group estimated in its Global LNG Market Outlook 2014-15.
So far, nine projects have been approved in the U.S. to export LNG, while four of them have begun construction.
The four projects under construction are in the states of Maryland, Texas and Louisiana, while the earliest date for the country to begin exports is late 2015.
A senior official of energy giant ExxonMobil said on April 20 that the U.S. may lose its opportunity to realize LNG projects and lose out on market share if the government does not hasten LNG export approvals.
'If policymakers don’t revisit and redress some significant legal and regulatory problems, then the U.S. could be left behind in global energy and trade,' said Rob Franklin, president of ExxonMobil Gas and Power Marketing Company, according to a statement on the company website.
The company has undertaken a $10 billion project to convert an LNG regasification terminal at Golden Pass, Texas, into an LNG export terminal, but has not heard any decision about its application from the federal government after more than two years.
Permit applications for some two dozen other projects are also in the same state of bureaucratic limbo, ExxonMobil said in the statement.
“If we are serious about having a U.S. LNG industry and capturing the tremendous opportunities in front of us, then we need to ensure that the case of LNG exports does not become just another casualty of bureaucracy,” Franklin said.
ExxonMobil stressed that global LNG demand is expected to triple between 2010 and 2040.
U.S. shale gas production is projected to reach 19.6 trillion cubic feet (392 million tonnes) in 2040, the U.S.' Energy Information Administration, EIA, said in its Annual Energy Outlook 2015.
The country's natural gas exports are also expected to increase to 13.1 trillion cubic feet (262 million tonnes) by that year, according to the EIA's outlook.
By Ovunc Kutlu