Eni CEO doubts U.S. public will accept exporting natural gas
(Reuters; June 13) - Increased use of cheap natural gas for transport and the threat of rising prices for consumers may mean the United States never becomes a major liquefied natural gas exporter, the chief executive of Italy's Eni SpA said June 13. A boom in unconventional gas production has turned the United States from the world's biggest gas importer to a potential LNG exporter in the middle of this decade, with consuming nations hoping for a new supplier.
"It remains to be seen whether American citizens, who accept the discomfort of the shale gas activity for reasons of energy security and independence, will willingly accept it to benefit the bank accounts of a few exporters, especially as a likely consequence of higher U.S. gas exports would be higher domestic prices," Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni said. "Will the U.S. start to export gas in significant quantities? I'm not sure," he told an OPEC seminar in Vienna.
Natural gas in the U.S. trades at less than one-sixth the price of an equivalent amount of energy from oil, he said. "My view is that these differences will be partially or totally evened out over time. ... If all of the trucks in the United States were converted from gasoline to natural gas that would save more than $40 billion a year in fuel costs at current price levels in the U.S," Scaroni said. "Over the long term the price of gas will negatively impact the price of oil. There is too wide a gap."