Exporting liquefied U.S. gas could create tens of thousands of jobs but would have “only minimal impacts” on the prices U.S. consumers and industry pay for gas supply, according to a new report prepared by ICF International for the American Petroleum Institute (API). It’s the latest word, of many, in the ongoing discussion about whether exporting some of America’s gas bounty is prudence or folly.

ICF also found that liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports would “spur strong growth” of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). However, it said, would-be exporters face abundant and tough competition as at least 63 international LNG export projects are planned or in the works.

“Increasing LNG exports is clearly in our national interest and will help the U.S. reach the president’s goal to double U.S. exports,” API CEO Jack Gerard said. “The industry is ready to invest in American infrastructure to create jobs and produce more domestic energy as soon as the Department of Energy moves forward with the approval of LNG export applications. Timely approval of LNG exports is crucial if we want to be competitive with international projects rushing to be first to market.”

ICF’s findings are largely in step with what NERA Economic Consulting said in its report, which was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and released at the end of last year. Across all scenarios considered by that study, “the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits from allowing LNG exports,” NERA said (see Daily GPI, Dec. 6, 2012).

That report was quickly blasted by The Dow Chemical Co., a large gas consumer (see Daily GPI, Dec. 10, 2012), which in March came out with a study by Charles River Associates that argues against exports and the methodology of the NERA study (see Daily GPI, March 12).

Deloitte has also weighed in, twice (see Daily GPI, Jan. 10; Dec. 19, 2011), as has the Brookings Institution (see Daily GPI, May 7, 2012) and Wood Mackenzie (see Daily GPI, March 29, 2012). Meanwhile, DOE has been seen by some to be dithering on its duty to decide whether to allow export of LNG to countries that are not parties to free trade agreements with the United States (see Daily GPI, Feb. 5).

The API/ICF study, “U.S. LNG Exports: Impacts on Energy Markets and the Economy,” looked at the impacts of LNG export levels of up to 4, 8 and 16 Bcf/d by 2035. Among the findings:

“Allowing the export of LNG would mean more jobs, growth in U.S. GDP, and less debt — key priorities of the American people,” Gerard said. “The government can demonstrate its commitment to addressing these priorities by promptly approving authorizations to export LNG.”

T. Boone Pickens recently told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that U.S. gas producers “should be entitled to get into the best markets in the world. So let them have it [exports]. Why would you keep gas prices down to favor other industries? It doesn’t make sense.”

The release of the API/ICF report on Wednesday was hosted by the Liquefied Natural Gas Export Working Group for the 113th Congress, which was formed in March to advocate for the permitting of LNG export projects by DOE. It was founded by Ohio House Reps. Tim Ryan, a Democrat, and Republican Bill Johnson.

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