Will New LNG Export Activity Affect U.S. Natural Gas Prices?
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it conditionally approved the first West Coast LNG terminal, the Jordan Cove Energy Project in Coos Bay, Oregon, for the export of up to 800 million cubic feet of gas per day to Asian countries without free trade agreements with the U.S., such as Japan and India.
The approval of exports to non-free trade agreement countries in Asia bodes well for exports to Europe in the future. All signs, in fact, are appropriately pointing to greater U.S. natural gas exports to Europe in the future - and none too soon, given Russia's recent power move in the Ukraine. Russia has been the leading natural gas supplier to Europe for some time. Indeed, certain nations in northeastern Europe, including Sweden and Finland, receive 100% of their supplies from Russia.
While Russia still has an astonishing level of proven reserves (first or second in the world, depending on which source you believe, with something over 30 trillion cubic meters), in recent years, the United States has rivaled Russia as the world's largest producer of natural gas, with each nation representing about 20% of world production.
Several other proposed LNG terminal projects, most of which are either on the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic coast, have been awaiting approval. Meanwhile, it was recently announced that a coalition of more than a dozen European nations has been formed to lobby the U.S. to ease restrictions on natural gas exports.
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