CERA: U.S. weighing LNG exports

The United States is carefully weighing the possibility of allowing broad liquefied natural gas exports to take advantage of booming domestic gas supplies, a government official said Wednesday at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

“This is obviously an issue we have been looking at closely,” Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said.

He added that  a decision will take months, but said gas exports could contribute to President Barack Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy to exploit every resource available to the country.

“We have to look at the overall effect: What the effect is going to be on gross domestic product, what’s the effect going to be on prices in the United States, what’s the effect going to be on the availability of supply?” he said.

Poneman, appearing on a panel with executives from Exxon Mobil Corp. and GDF Suez, said the administration also is considering the potential increase in jobs that industry representatives say could come with LNG exports.

The administration also is interested in promoting consumption of compressed natural gas in cars, Poneman said.

“This is actually a very exciting time for this issue,” he said, noting that he was impressed by a compressed natural gas refueling station in Arkansas where CNG was selling for about $1.50 a gallon.

“You notice stuff like that,” Poneman said.

Thomas Walters, president of gas and power marketing for Exxon Mobil, said his company is trying to find more ways to market its increasing supplies of natural gas.

“The real key is how the market and the consumer will move to it because to really make it work you need that pull,” he said. “Before investors will come in they need to see that pull and we’re beginning to see that emerge in certain areas.”

Walters pushed for LNG exports, as did Dirk Beeuwsaert, executive vice president of GDF Suez.

“You can do more if you create some additional opportunities on LNG,” Beeuwsaert said.