The major associations serving the natural gas and oil industries are in the process of forming a coalition to deal with public debate heating up over the number of proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals being built around the nation and the growing amount of imported LNG entering the U.S. marketplace to capture soaring market values.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), the United States Energy Association (USEA), the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA), the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) and the American Gas Association (AGA) held a meeting last Wednesday to discuss the formation of the yet-to-be named LNG coalition.

“The point of it is to coordinate the information and education activities on LNG issues to try to do more to inform public officials and others about what LNG is all about,” said API spokesman Ray Connolly.

“It will be kind of the central clearinghouse of information about LNG and it would coordinate efforts to really inform people about it,” Connolly said. “Just to shine the light brighter on the subject of LNG, which is getting more attention in view of the natural gas supply situation.”

Connolly added that the coalition would look into the main issues surrounding LNG, including its potential for enhancing natural gas supply and how to expand its role. He said he expected an announcement on the coalition’s formation to come out sometime this week.

AGA spokeswoman Daphne Magnuson said that although AGA has been in discussions regarding the coalition, it has not yet made any kind of commitment to the forming group.

NGSA spokesman Mark Stultz said, “That’s the direction we are headed.” He added that the coalition will provide a conduit for educational material, in addition to putting out a unified message. The coalition will also pull resources where it makes sense to do so. “We are still in the very early stages here of formulating these groups. One of the big questions is to what extent advocacy will be a part of what these new groups do.”

Stultz added that NGSA is looking to be “very supportive” of working with the associations to develop messages and to promote the value of LNG in the marketplace.

The new coalition will enter territory currently occupied by USEA-backed International LNG Alliance (ILNGA), which was put together earlier in the year as a broad-based strategic alliance of LNG interests that works together to promote and advance the safe, reliable, cost effective and environmentally sound use of LNG and development of LNG infrastructure.

In addition to educating the public about LNG, the International LNG Alliance monitors policy issues, develops statements of position on relevant issues and promotes policies and programs that are consistent with LNG strategic business interests. The group also seeks to create partnerships between industry and government in the United States and worldwide that produce commercial opportunities in LNG trade and infrastructure.

At the roll-out announcement in April, ILNGA Executive Director David Sweet said that recent changes in the regulation of LNG facilities by FERC have set the stage for significant expansion of U.S. LNG markets.

As to whether there will be room for multiple LNG coalitions, Connolly said, “We work closely with the USEA and many of our companies are members of USEA.” Stultz added that he is sure the new coalition will be looking to work with ILNGA and complement their efforts.

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