(Reuters) – A U.S. manufacturing trade group on Thursday urged the U.S. Department of Energy not to approve further liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications, citing concerns that the country was consuming and exporting the fuel at a faster clip than it was finding new resources.
The agency’s approval of LNG export volumes equal almost 70 percent of 2016 U.S. demand for periods of 20 to 30 years, which cannot possibly be in the “public interest,” the Industrial Energy Consumers Of America (IECA) said.
After decades of importing massive amounts of natural gas, the United States became an exporter of the fuel in 2017 for the first time in 60 years due in part to growing liquefied natural gas exports.
The United States is expected to become the third-biggest LNG exporter by capacity in 2018. At the start of 2016 before Cheniere Energy Inc’s Sabine Pass LNG export terminal entered service in February of that year, the United States was not exporting LNG.
Sabine Pass is still the only LNG export facility operating in the country, but by the end of the year, the nation’s LNG export capacity is expected to rise from 3 billion cubic feet now to 4.6 bcfd.
One bcfd is enough gas to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes.
Over the next few years, the nation’s LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 9.4 bcfd by the end of 2019 and 10.1 bcfd by the end of 2020 as facilities currently under construction enter service.
In addition, there are dozens of projects under development that hope to get contracts from customers so they can also get built. It is these projects that the manufacturing trade group is targeting.
The companies developing new LNG projects include units of Cheniere, Tellurian Inc, Energy Transfer Partners LP, Exxon Mobil Corp, Pembina Pipeline Corp, Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd, Kinder Morgan Inc and Sempra Energy.