The latest applicant seeking authorization to export liquefied U.S. natural gas to world markets is also the one seeking to export the most: 2.8 Bcf/d. The recent application from Gulf Coast LNG Export LLC is under completeness review at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which is not yet disclosing any more details.

Gulf Coast LNG is the eighth party to apply since 2010 to DOE's Office of Fossil Energy for long-term authorization to export domestic gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG). It filed its application on Dec. 21.

John Anderson, team leader for natural gas regulatory activities at DOE's Office for Oil and Gas Global Security and Supply, told NGI that DOE likely would take up the completeness determination of the Gulf Coast LNG application in the coming days. He would not comment further on that application or the others that DOE has been handling.

The first party to apply for export authority, Cheniere Energy unit Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC (see Daily GPI, Nov. 22, 2011), has received approval to export 2.2 Bcf/d under both Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and non-FTA provisions. Sabine Pass on Wednesday received a favorable environmental assessment for its project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (see Daily GPI, Dec. 29, 2011).

DOE recently posted a summary of applications and their status on its website. According to the summary of Dec. 22, so far receiving approval to export to countries that are parties to an FTA with the United States are:

All of the above except Jordan Cove also have applications under review to export to non-FTA countries. Cameron LNG LLC has applications under review for export of 1.7 Bcf/d to FTA and non-FTA countries (see Daily GPI, Nov. 4, 2011), DOE said.

Not included in the above list is Cheniere Energy unit Corpus Christi Liquefaction LLC, which recently announced plans to liquefy and export gas from the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas (see Daily GPI, Dec. 19, 2011a). Anderson said DOE has not received an application from Corpus Christi Liquefaction.

Overall, DOE has received applications to export 12.33 Bcf/d to FTA countries and 12.51 Bcf/d to non-FTA countries. The amounts are not additive.

Exporting to countries that are not parties to an FTA with the United States represents a more significant hurdle than exporting to FTA countries, as DOE's Christopher Smith explained to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during testimony in November.

"The Natural Gas Act favors granting applications to export to non-free trade agreement countries unless it can be demonstrated that a proposed export is inconsistent with the public interest," said Smith, who is deputy assistant secretary for oil and gas in DOE's Office of Fossil Energy. "In the case of exports of LNG to free trade agreement countries that require national treatment for trade in natural gas, DOE is without any authority to deny, condition, or otherwise limit such exports."

During the same testimony Smith said DOE was aware that the "cumulative impact" of LNG export authorizations "could pose a threat to the public interest." DOE has commissioned two studies -- one from the Energy Information Administration and one from a private party -- to investigate the impact of additional gas exports on "domestic energy consumption, production and prices, as well as the cumulative impact on the U.S. economy, including the effect on gross domestic product, jobs creation and balance of trade, among other factors," Smith said.

The studies are expected to be completed during the first quarter. "...[W]e believe that a sound evidentiary record is essential in order to proceed to a decision [on LNG export applications] and that these studies being undertaken are important elements of such a record," Smith told the committee.

While some groups representing the interests of consumers and industrial end-users of natural gas have raised concern that export of domestic gas would raise prices, a recent study by Deloitte found that the impact on prices of exports would be modest (see Daily GPI, Dec. 19, 2011b).

Besides the potential for export from the Lower 48 states, the United States has been exporting LNG from Alaska for years. While the state's Kenai LNG terminal had been slated for closure, it recently got a new lease on life when operator ConocoPhillips said it would continue to operate, exporting gas from the Cook Inlet during 2012 (see Daily GPI, Dec. 20, 2011).

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