Data Contradicts Rationale Underpinning Biden’s Decision To Halt New Natural Gas Export Hubs

Market data undermines one the Biden administration’s central justifications for pausing new approvals of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals.

The administration has rolled out or amplified several talking points to back up the LNG terminal approvals pause, including the suggestion that expanded LNG exports will put upward pressure on domestic natural gas prices. However, market data does not currently support this assertion, and energy sector experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the claim does not add up.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that exporting LNG has had any impact on domestic natural gas prices, other than perhaps depressing them,” David Blackmon, a 40-year veteran of the oil and gas industry who now consults and writes about the energy sector, told the DCNF. “As U.S. exports to Europe ramped up in late 2022, the NYMEX Henry Hub domestic price collapsed from $7 per one million British thermal units to just $2 in a span of just four months.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) published a May 2023 report projecting that growth in LNG exports will place upward pressure on domestic prices, whereas reductions in exports would have the opposite effect. However, different EIA data demonstrates that domestic natural gas prices fell significantly in 2023 relative to the year prior, the same period of time in which U.S. LNG exports reached record levels and made America the world’s leading LNG exporter. (RELATED: Biden’s Natural Gas Pause Will Jack Up Emissions And Empower Foreign Producers, Experts Say)

“This administration is committed to the affordability of energy and economic opportunities for all Americans; strengthening energy security here in the US and with our allies; and protecting Americans against climate change and winning the clean energy future,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Jan. 26, the day the pause was announced. “This practical action will ensure that [the Department of Energy] remains a responsible actor using the most up-to-date economic and environmental analyses.”

The climate-related ramifications of considerably expanding America’s LNG export capacity have received considerable attention from the press, but the administration’s focus on energy affordability is also a key motivation for the pause, as Granholm mentioned in her statement. Amos Hochstein, a top energy adviser to President Joe Biden, suggested Thursday that the U.S. may already have more than enough operational LNG export capacity.

“What this decision to pause has really accomplished is starving investment capital in natural gas projects going forward and hand the keys over to Qatar,” Dan Kish, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Energy research, told the DCNF. “Would you stop food exports to keep the price of food down?”

Kish also pointed out that natural gas-related technologies have developed significantly since the dawn of the “Shale Revolution” in the 2000s. There is no reason to doubt that companies will continue to develop more efficient, robust and effective technologies to access even more of America’s vast natural gas reserves, keeping supply sufficiently abundant to satisfy domestic and global demand at highly competitive prices, Kish told the DCNF.

Additionally, White House climate czar Ali Zaidi suggested in January that global demand for American LNG, especially in Europe, may be fleeting because most European allies are pursuing a green energy transition in the coming years.

While many American allies in Europe are committed to a green energy future, some of those same nations have made significant investments in natural gas power plants and LNG import hubs to complement American export terminals. Europe has a burgeoning divide between its contracted long-term supply of LNG and its needs, according to market analysis conducted by Rystad Energy.

Moreover, a top official for Eurogas, an oil and gas trade association featuring 102 European firms as members, wrote a letter before the decision to warn that a pause on new export approvals in the U.S. “would risk increasing and prolonging the global supply imbalance.”

In Asia, would-be buyers of LNG — such as Japan and China — have been searching to make other supply arrangements to protect themselves against disruptions caused by the U.S. moratorium on new export hubs, according to Bloomberg News. Qatari officials announced additional long-term increases in natural gas production in February, augmenting existing plans for growth and putting the country’s capacity on track to rise by 85% by the decade’s end. Notably, Qatar has signed two major long-term agreements with China to supply natural gas in the past 18 months.

Neither the White House nor the DOE responded immediately to requests for comment.


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