Energy Department approves more exports for Freeport LNG

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November 18, 2013

(Houston Chronicle; Nov. 15) - The Energy Department has boosted the amount of natural gas that Freeport LNG can export overseas from its proposed Texas facility, the agency announced Nov. 15. The terminal at Quintana Island, Texas, now has approval to export 1.8 billion cubic feet per day for 20 years to countries that do not have a free-trade agreement with the United States, subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval. In May, Freeport LNG received approval to export 1.4 bcf per day.

Freeport LNG is one of four facilities that has conditional authorization to ship the nation's natural gas bounty to non-free trade nations, including Japan. In September, Dominion's Cove Point, Md., project was conditionally approved for 770 million cubic feet of natural gas exports per day. Less than a month earlier, the agency gave license to the Lake Charles Exports facility in Louisiana for the sale of 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass facility already is under construction.

The projects have spurred fierce debate over how the nation's booming natural gas production should be used. Consumer groups argue that exports should be restricted to keep the domestic price of natural gas low. However, natural gas producers say that exports will provide incentive to increase drilling for the fossil fuel, adding jobs and boosting the economy. The federal government now has authorized about 6.8 bcf a day of U.S. natural gas to be exported to non-free trade nations.

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