Small-scale LNG exports from the U.S. to the Caribbean, Central America and South America are getting a boost from U.S. lawmakers who say the federal government's review of such projects should be expedited.
Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Marco Rubio of Florida on Oct. 18 introduced a bill that would automatically consider applications to export equal to or less than 51.1 Bcf of LNG a year, or 0.14 Bcf/d, to be "consistent with the public interest," as long as the shipments are not to countries forbidden by the U.S.
The bill echoes a rule the U.S. Department of Energy is considering that would allow automatic authorization to export LNG to any country as long as the volume did not exceed 0.14 Bcf/d and the proposal did not require an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act. A statement from Cassidy and Rubio's office said the lawmakers' bill would "codify" DOE's proposed rule.
"Expedited approval of small-scale natural gas exports would strengthen an emerging sector of Florida's economy," Rubio said in a statement. "In addition to the economic advantages for Florida, this measure would bolster our existing ties with Caribbean and Latin American nations while ensuring that bad actors in the region, including Cuba and Venezuela, do not reap its benefits."
On the same day, Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that asked the agency to expedite its review of the Eagle LNG export project. The small Florida LNG project, which would load the fuel into ISO containers at a facility in Jacksonville, Fla., has said it intends to export to markets in the Caribbean Basin and elsewhere in the region. (FERC docket CP17-41)
The U.S. Energy Department in mid-September authorized the developer to export 0.01 Bcf/d of natural gas as LNG to any country not prohibited by U.S. law or policy, just three months after the developer filed its application.
"The project will be modest in scale relative to the larger LNG export projects with which the FERC is familiar, but it will address significant demands for LNG in the Caribbean and other export markets, in the U.S. vehicular fuel and high horsepower engine market, and in the domestic marine bunkering market," Lawson wrote.
Cassidy and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have also introduced bills that would speed up the DOE review of all LNG exports to countries with which the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement. Under the bill, shipments to countries barred from trade with the U.S. would still be excluded.