Due to the rapid turnaround of the US gas market, former LNG import terminals are being reconfigured to facilitate exports. Image: Sempra LNG

Louisiana Reaping Rewards from LNG Exports to Asia

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On December 10th, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced that natural gas company Venture Global LNG will invest $4.25 billion to build a Liquid Natural Gas processing plant and export terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Venture Global LNG is the latest in a long line of eager investors in the Bayou State, after the Department of Energy loosened restrictions on LNG exports earlier this year.

After finding that the potential benefits of exporting energy outweighed possible concerns, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has begun approving domestic LNG projects, the majority of which are located in Louisiana. Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal, also in Cameron Parish, is the largest project in the state, and set to be the first to deliver LNG to Asia. The company has spent $12 million transforming its facility from an import terminal to an export terminal, and plans to begin shipments next year, having already secured deals with Korea Gas Corp, Gail India Ltd, and Australia’s Woodside Petroleum. The project is expected to create 18,300 local jobs at its peak and provide over $230 million in state tax revenue.

Cheniere will soon be joined by a number of competing projects, including Sempra Energy’s $10 billion Cameron LNG terminal at Hackberry, and a $4.5 billion operation by Lake Charles Exports LLC. The Cameron LNG terminal is a joint venture between American Sempra, France’s GDF SUEZ, and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation and Nippon Yuesen Kabashiki Kaisha. That new facility is predicted to employ over 3,000 people in Louisiana.

All three of these LNG projects are located in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, represented by Congressman Charles Boustany. A longtime advocate of liberalizing America’s energy trade, Rep. Boustany suggests increased exports of LNG can help to “usher in a new era of energy diplomacy,” in which proactive trade policies will help open new markets for American goods and services abroad. As of November 2014, eight non-FTA export applications had been approved by the Department of Energy, including those by Cheniere, Sempra and Lake Charles, with more than 25 applications under review, accounting for over 50 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of potential exports.

Jonathan Gordon is a graduate from the University of Sydney and is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C.