In a move timed to coincide with the commencement of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Thursday in Washington, DC, Tulsa, OK, Mayor Dewey Bartlett is leading a charge for the exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“Over the past four months, I have asked our region’s mayors to underscore our sense of urgency in our request to the Obama administration to approve the exporting of LNG into the world LNG markets. Our cities have a long, proud history of being involved with numerous aspects of the oil and natural gas industry; whether production, refining, manufacturing, or education — they all contribute generously to each city’s economic base future,” he wrote in a letter to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu.

Bartlett’s letter marked the culmination of a letter writing campaign to Chu. Sixteen other mayors from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kansas participated.

Chu will be one of the featured speakers at the winter gathering of the Conference of Mayors, which represents cities with populations exceeding 30,000. The DOE is expected to make a decision on LNG export permits as early as February. It is currently reviewing public comments on the issue. There are 20 petitions for the export of LNG to non-free trade agreement countries awaiting a decision.

“The effect [of exporting LNG] upon the domestic U.S. market, both now and five to 10 years into the future, would be minimal. That is mainly due to the fact that we have such a large volume of natural gas that is being produced and is being discovered at almost increasing rates throughout our country, mainly through the shale formations,” Bartlett said in a conference call, citing studies on LNG exportation by consulting firms NERA Economic Consulting and Deloitte (see Daily GPI, Jan. 10; Dec. 6, 2012).

Bartlett believes the time for action is now. “I do believe that there is no need for a lot of further study and evaluation and simply kicking the can down the road,” Bartlett said. In his letter to Chu, the mayor noted that Canada and Australia are developing their own LNG export capabilities. “That is why we respectfully encourage you to facilitate the approval of LNG exporting facilities as quickly as possible,” he wrote.

Bartlett told NGI’s Shale Daily he isn’t concerned that exporting LNG could have a detrimental effect on domestic manufacturing that is benefiting from natural gas’ low cost and abundance. “There is such a significant amount of natural gas that’s being produced and is not being sold. If you look at the entirety of the natural gas that is produced in this country, both for heating and cooling, as well for industrial and agricultural use, the amount of that natural gas that would be sold as LNG is relatively small.”

He believes exportation should occur on a scale of 5-10 Bcf/d or “possibly” 12 Bcf/d, representing between 7% and 17% of U.S. consumption, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates to be 69.7 Bcf/d.

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