When President Obama made an off-hand remark two months ago regarding the economic export opportunities provided by America’s unprecedented natural gas production (as a by product of the current revolutionary oil shale development), it signaled a green light for full speed ahead in the construction of liquid natural gas terminals.
Although not noted by any aspects of the national media at that time, it was obvious that the combined efforts of the hostile Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with major U.S. chemical companies, hoping to keep natural gas prices low, had failed. It seemed only a matter of time before this golden opportunity would kick off our nation’s outstanding 2014 export “breakout” and all benefits derived therefrom.
Even though a previous energy development approval had been granted for an export terminal conversion in Freeport, Texas, the just-announced O.K. by the U.S. Department of Energy for LNG-export clearance for the Dominion Cove Point LNG shipping dock, in Calvert County, Maryland to countries that do not have a free trade agreement, is a major breakthrough. The EPA, and its associated pressure groups had bombarded the DOE with 200,000 emails indicating the extreme displeasure of this broadening anti-U.S. domestic energy development, all of which that Agency considered “climatic poison.”
The DOE announced that the government’s permission was based on exports up to 770 million cubit feet of natural gas per day for 20 years. In effect, this gives Dominion a wide-open door to generate the maximum that such a facility could manage to ship and no time limit spanning a generation. This “gateway” decision is very likely the base for similar decisions to follow, utilizing the immense quantity of natural gas that is being released from current and future oil shale production sites.
With the U.S. price of less than $4 per million British thermal units, major natural gas users in Japan, the United Kingdom, and central and western Europe will provide multi-billion dollars of export potential, plus thousands of additional employees as early as mid-2014.
The resistance by major U.S. chemical companies has been based on the obvious domestic price increase for this energy powering source, which has already returned plants back to the U.S. from offshore chemical production facilities. This is due to the huge price gap that has reached as high as $15 per one million BTU’s in Europe and parts of Asia.
At this stage of LNG export inception, still awaiting substantial terminal development, and continuing opposition from state-wide sources and lawsuits, the crest of this export tidal wave may not make itself felt until 2015-16. But once underway, it’s a sure bet that U.S. liquid natural gas, along with coal, and oil derivatives could eventually vault U.S. energy exports into an excess of low 100 billion annual export dollars. The beneficial effects on national revenues, employment, and component products needed in all aspects of this development will obviously be immense.
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