NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Energy Department has announced that a southwestern Louisiana liquefied natural gas terminal has been granted conditional approval to export LNG to countries that do not have a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
Lake Charles Exports LLC had already been granted authority, in 2011, to export domestic natural gas from its Lake Charles terminal to countries with which the U.S. has free trade agreements for gas.
Wednesday's announcement said the conditional authority to export to non-FTA countries is subject to environmental review and final approval. The conditional authorization is for the export of LNG at a rate of up to 2 billion cubic feet per day for 20 years.
Lake Charles Exports LLC is a joint venture involving BG Group and a subsidiary of Southern Union Company.
"With the global demand for energy expected to rise, Southwest Louisiana will continue to play an important role in determining supply," U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany said in a statement. "While I am pleased to see the DOE conditionally authorize this application, I encourage it to honor its word by making announcements in the six to eight week timetable set earlier this year. This application took over two years to authorize. LNG exports will create U.S. jobs, lower our trade deficit, and provide for greater energy security. The process must not be needlessly delayed."
Wednesday's approval is the third granted by the Energy Department for export of LNG to non-FTA countries.
The first was in May 2011 for the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal in Cameron Parish for export at a rate of up to 2.2 billion cubic feet per day; the second authorization in May 2013 from the Freeport LNG Terminal in Quintana Island, Texas, was approved for a rate of up to 1.4 billion cubic feet per day.
Consumer groups and some manufacturers that use natural gas have opposed expanded exports, saying they could drive up domestic prices and make manufacturing more expensive. The Energy Department said it reached its decision on the Lake Charles Exports terminal after "careful review" and a determination that approval "was not inconsistent with the public interest."