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White House could aid pipeline projects in 2019, economic adviser says

The Trump administration intends to encourage the development of U.S. oil and natural gas pipeline projects in the coming year as the administration moves forward on its deregulation track, according to the White House's leading economic adviser.

When asked at an Oct. 4 forum about economic areas the administration would like to focus on, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said the administration may put a "greater emphasis" on deregulation in the energy industry. Kudlow also said the White House prioritizes maintaining and improving its tax policy.

Kudlow indicated that the U.S. is becoming the world leader in energy, with help from the fledgling LNG industry. "Every European country wants LNG. Asia wants LNG. There may come a time when China wants LNG," Kudlow said at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. "That is a revolution which has been stifled for so many years."

Citing this global demand, Kudlow said more pipeline projects will be needed. "We need infrastructure, including pipelines," said Kudlow. "We need east to west. We need west to east."

He also said that, thanks to the natural gas revolution from hydraulic fracturing, natural gas production is constricted by a lack of pipeline capacity. "He's got more than he knows what to do with," Kudlow said of an executive with a Permian Basin-focused driller. "They're burning it off, flaring."

Concerns about pipeline capacity in the Permian are such that producers have increased their oil basis hedge positions for 2020 by more than 400%.

"The states have some problems," the National Economic Council director said when asked about hurdles for infrastructure legislation regarding pipeline projects. "But we also have some leverage at the federal government."