On Monday, June 17, the Washington Post published an opinion piece from Senator John Barrasso from Wyoming arguing that the U.S. should speed up approvals of natural gas exports. His article, “Why we should speed U.S. gas exports‘” touts his bill, the Expedited LNG for American Allies Act. Senator Barrasso links this argument to the energy security situation in Europe, especially regarding Russia.
Here at ASP, we have argued that the emerging geopolitics of energy shows why it is important for the United States to take a leadership role in exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Nick Cunningham’s paper “The Geopolitical Implications of U.S. Natural Gas Exports” showed how high demand abroad (particularly in Asia) coupled with a supply glut in the United States means that there is an opportunity to build a global, market-based energy economy – and that would be good for America and its allies. Monopoly energy producers too often use their geopolitical power to sway decisions.
Senator Barrasso argues that American LNG exports can undercut the propensity for Russian geopolitical meddling in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. I would add that actual competition for energy supplies is forcing the Russian government to have a more ‘normal’ relationship with its near-abroad neighbors.
In the bigger picture, I am afraid that a government slowdown in approval for exports of LNG means that American producers will be left behind in a race for global energy markets. Already, Qatar is a leader in LNG exports, with companies in Norway, Indonesia, Mozambique, Angola, and Australia competing to bring LNG export capacity on line. Delays in the export approvals could mean that those countries gain a ‘first-mover advantage’ over American producers – locking them out of markets. Ultimately, allowing American LNG to reach world markets will enhance the energy security of our allies, providing geopolitical benefits to the U.S.
For more, read the paper below, or view the event “The Geopolitical Implications of Natural Gas Exports,” hosted on April 16, 2013 here.