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After LNG-project approvals, FERC chairman sees need for still more US LNG

Washington — A day after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved two more major US Gulf Coast LNG projects, the agency's chairman was bullish Friday on the notion that even more US LNG is needed.

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FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee answered strongly in the affirmative when asked if it is important to advance more US LNG projects.

"In conversations I've had over the past year with our allies around the world, there is significant interest in US LNG and the role the US can play in this space," he said in an interview with S&P Global Platts Friday. "Our allies want to partner with the US because of the certainty of our regulatory system, because we do this cleaner and better and safer than everyone else around the world, and because geopolitically they'd prefer to be aligned with us," he said.

As allies transition to natural gas, Chatterjee also pointed to the potential for increased global supplies to make LNG more affordable, "which will have positive global economic benefits as well." He has also talked up US LNG as a counterweight to potential expansion of Russia's sphere of influence as Europe and parts of Asia move toward greater dependence on gas.

The commission by 3-1 votes on Thursday granted certificate approval to the Driftwood LNG and Port Arthur LNG export terminals, bolstering prospects for the two projects that are part of a second wave of US LNG development.

Those votes came despite continued differences among commissioners over how the agency considers greenhouse gas emissions. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, a key swing vote, indicated the decisions are getting harder for her, not easier, but ultimately lent her support to the projects after some concessions on language.

Chatterjee sought to emphasize that he, like LaFleur, intends to judge each project on an individual basis, and was careful to praise LaFleur for the "seriousness with which she approaches these evaluations and her willingness to thoughtfully" work to get her concerns addressed.

"I'm optimistic that she is a thoughtful, legally outstanding regulator and will continue to work hard to make sure that we have lawfully durable products," he said.

Other projects moving toward decision points this spring and summer at FERC are Freeport LNG Train 4, which got its environmental report back in late January, Texas LNG, Corpus Christi Stage 3, Eagle LNG, Gulf LNG Liquefaction, Annova LNG Brownsville, Rio Grande LNG and Plaquemines LNG.

-- Maya Weber, maya.weber@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Derek Sands, newsdesk@spglobal.com