Biden Administration Halts Approvals of New LNG Export Plants

The Biden administration has decided to pause the approval process for new liquified natural gas (LNG) export plants, a decision that could have far-reaching implications for the energy sector.

The administration is set to expand the evaluation of LNG projects to include their impact on climate change, causing delays in the approval process. The New York Times reports that this unexpected decision could potentially postpone approvals, including Venture Global’s CP2 export plant, until after the November election.

The United States, currently the world’s largest LNG exporter, has a slate of approved and under-construction projects that would solidify its position as a major supplier in the global market. However, the potential moratorium on new projects raises concerns about ceding market share to other players in the late 2020s and 2030s.

Projects such as CP2, Lakes Charles, and Commonwealth, which were expected to reach a final investment decision this year, now face additional hurdles with the introduction of a stricter approval process by the Department of Energy.

Goldman Sachs analysts reassured that the stricter approval process would not impact global gas supply balances for at least the next three to four years. However, the development signals a broader shift in the regulatory landscape for LNG exports.

The proposed changes aim to tighten the approval process for LNG exports to non-Free Trade Agreement (FTA) nations, such as Japan, the European Union, and China. Projects that have received final investment and are scheduled to commence operations in the next few years fall under this approval requirement.

The Energy Department’s decision not to extend non-FTA licenses beyond the initial seven years for companies that haven’t started building export facilities adds another layer of complexity. Currently, over a dozen license applications await review, with Commonwealth LNG being the only one that has cleared the separate Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval process.

As the industry faces potential delays and regulatory changes, LNG supporters are engaging in a last-minute lobbying effort, emphasizing the climate benefits of using American natural gas over dirtier-burning alternatives. However, environmentalists and administration officials advocating for a tougher approach believe it is time to reconsider the impact of these projects on climate change.

With more than a dozen license applications pending and only one having cleared the required FERC approval process, the industry is gearing up for a pivotal period that could shape the future of LNG exports from the United States.

Information for this briefing was found via Bloomberg and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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