The debate surrounding crude oil and gas exports from the US has been a continuous one for many years and the 30th April vote on legislation to fast track US exports of LNG is the most recent twist in the tale. H.R. 6, or The Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, has been approved by the US Energy and Commerce Committee, and expedites the approval of over 20 export permits and seeks the accelerated US Department of Energy approval of future permits for export to World Trade Organisation members. Some believe that this is an excellent step forward for the country, however, not all are pleased with the vote and the prospect of crude and gas exports from the US.
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The American Petroleum Institute (API) has praised the vote and even issued a letter of support to committee leaders encouraging passage of the bill. The letter reads, ‘we welcome the work the Energy and Commerce Committee is doing to make LNG exports a priority and continue to call on the Department of Energy to quickly approve all pending applications. What we do today matters. Now is the time to build our energy infrastructure, expand exports, and lock in the economic and geopolitical opportunities that our energy revolution has created.’ The American Public Gas Association (APGA) represents the other side of the coin and is far from happy with the Committee’s vote. The APGA, in a letter to the Committee said, ‘though well intentioned, this legislation will fail to achieve its desired purpose of reducing Ukraine and other Eastern European nations’ dependence on Russian natural gas and will increase the price of our domestic natural gas here at home, hurting homeowners’ budgets and businesses’ bottom lines.’
When it comes to the facts and figures of oil and gas exports, they show many positives. An analysis by ICF International has shown that when it comes to natural gas exports, the economic benefits will stretch far beyond the producing states and have a positive impact on the US steel, cement and equipment industries. Also, the report says that LNG exports specifically ‘could yield an additional 665 000 US jobs, reduce our nation’s trade deficit, increase government revenues, and significantly grow the economy.’ When it comes to crude oil exports, the report is positive once again. Between 2015 and 2020, if crude exports are approved, ICF expects the US economy to gain up to 300 000 jobs, US GDP to increase by US$ 38.1 billion, the trade deficit to narrow by US$ 22.3 billion and US refinery throughput to average 15.5 million bpd.
After reading the above report and the arguments posed by the API and APGA, I can confidently say that I put myself in the pro exports category. 2020 is only six years away, and if natural gas and crude oil exports are allowed, the US economy will undeniably benefit as a whole. In a world where economic stability is still a rarity, this does seem on the whole like an opportunity that is too good for the US to miss.