Natural Gas Exports Would Boost U.S. Economy, Report Says

Exporting natural gas would benefit the U.S. economy, according to a study conducted for the Department of Energy.

The study has the potential to reshape the global energy market and could turn the tide in a politically sensitive issue, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The Obama administration has said the study would be central to its decision on approving exports, the paper said in a front-page story.

But energy consumers, including manufacturers and chemical companies, are concerned that more exports could boost domestic U.S. prices, while environmental groups fear that allowing exports would encourage more natural-gas production, the Journal reported.

At American Trucking Associations’ Summit on Natural Gas in Trucking last week, the trucking industry heard many speakers give interactive presentations on the fuel’s expanding use in transportation.

Energy firms have proposed more than a dozen projects to export liquefied natural-gas to Europe and Asia, where LNG is about three to four times more expensive, the New York Times reported.

The report, conduced for DOE by NERA Economic Consulting, analyzed a range of U.S. natural gas production and export scenarios and found that “across all these scenarios, the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits” from exporting LNG, the Journal reported.

Most companies seeking permission to liquefy gas — which requires extensive cooling — and then export it have been awaiting the report, the Journal reported.

DOE has said it would not issue export permits for exports to countries that don’t have free-trade agreements with the United States until the study was completed and that it could be assured such exports were in the U.S. national interest as required by law.

The Energy Information Administration, which is part of DOE, estimated Wednesday that the U.S. could export about four billion cubic feet per day by 2027, or about 6.6% of current U.S. natural-gas consumption, the Journal reported.