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Pennsylvania Congressman Favors Exporting Shale Gas

Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-PA) said he supports exporting surplus Marcellus Shale gas to China and other countries that do not have free trade agreements with the U.S., and also backs the concept of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a port in Maryland.

In an interview earlier this month with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Thompson -- whose district is the largest in Pennsylvania and covers much Marcellus territory -- said he believes the U.S. could someday be stuck with an oversupply of natural gas and nowhere to sell it, an unintended consequence of exponential growth in shale gas.

"The fact is, we have a bountiful amount of [natural gas]," Thompson said. "We could probably be in a position to meet our energy needs and, if need be, be able to export."

Two projects to export LNG from the U.S. Lower 48 through bidirectional facilities are currently moving through the federal approval process. Cheniere Energy Partners LP unit Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC plans to add liquefaction capability to an existing import terminal in Cameron Parish, LA (see Daily GPI, March 8; June 7, 2010). Meanwhile, Freeport LNG and Macquarie Energy plan to add export capability to an import terminal at Quintana Island in Brazoria County, TX (see Daily GPI, Nov. 23, 2010).

Last month Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell said the company's Cove Point LNG import terminal in Lusby, MD, could be reconfigured to handle exports, although it was unclear if it would be a bidirectional facility (see Daily GPI, March 14). Thompson told the Tribune-Review that he supports exports from Cove Point, which could export Marcellus Shale gas.

Thompson also joined 15 other members of Congress in a letter to President Obama, urging him to support the Cheniere project. Although the letter -- dated Dec. 10, 2010 -- doesn't mention exporting LNG to any specific countries, Thompson said China would be a big customer for American shale gas.

"We are in a global economy today and exports are a part of that," Thompson said. "China will obviously be the largest consumer of energy."

The Tribune-Review interview alluded that Thompson may have contradicted his position through earlier statements urging the country to decrease its dependency on foreign oil by relying instead on Marcellus Shale gas for its energy needs. But Thompson's communications director, Parish Braden, told NGI that was not the case.

"This is a debate that's in its infancy, and it's a discussion that we should have," Braden said Wednesday. "The rate of [natural gas] production in the next 20 years is going to surpass that of domestic demand. We should be able to meet our domestic needs, and if we can also create jobs through exporting and create growth in the industry through exports, it should be considered."

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