INTERVIEW: LNG trade executive chronicles US evolution toward exports
The upcoming North America Gas Summit, which will take place in Washington, DC, from October 3-5, will bring together energy professionals, regulators, and opinion leaders to discuss a host of issues shaping the North American gas market.
Bill Cooper, president of trade association Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG), will serve as an executive panelist at the summit on October 4.
Mr. Cooper spoke with Hydrocarbon Processing about some of the issues impacting the market - including hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology for shale gas and evolving trading dynamics for LNG - prior to his panel session.
Q: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell me how you became involved in the North American Gas Summit?
A: I was asked to host by a summit representative. I think the summit is a great idea - an event that combines both supply and demand features and brings both ends of the natural gas spectrum together for discussion.
Q: What does CLNG do to promote public education on LNG and work with legislators on LNG initiatives?
A: CLNG was formed in 2004 when the need arose for reliable information on LNG for the public and policymakers. Of course, back then the focus was on LNG import terminals, since we thought wed need to import gas over the long term to meet demand in the US.
CLNG is composed of a broad group of energy providers and trade associations. We hold fact-based discussions on LNG to educate the public, support energy policy, and help ensure the continued, safe transportation of LNG. A big part of our mission is to take what we know to be true about our industry, and use those facts to educate the public. Its a very safe and reliable industry.
Q: Currently, there are several new LNG export facilities under development in North America. Some LNG import terminals on the US Gulf Coast are also planned for conversion into export terminals. Do you see this North American gas export trend continuing into the future?
A: I am not sure that I would say a trend has developed yet for exports. Certainly, a trend has developed for the conceptual phase of LNG exports.
Q: Do you view possible regulatory limitations on fracking technology as a significant impediment to US exports? In the absence of such limitations, do you see shale gas facilitating a gradual shift in the US from net gas importer to net exporter?
A: The development of shale gas production in the US is important to meet the domestic needs of US consumers. In fact, it is projected that the US should have enough domestic production to meet domestic needs, so that regulatory approvals can be obtained to export natural gas in the form of LNG. So, shale gas will be a facilitating factor in the development of LNG exports.
To the extent that punitive regulations are pursued regarding hydraulic fracturing, the development of shale gas could be hindered, and thus affect possible LNG exports from the US.
Q: Are there new developments in regasification and liquefaction technology that will aid countries (such as the US) seeking to maximize their LNG export potential?
A: Technologies are being developed continually to bring efficiencies to the facilities. To the extent that new technologies are implemented and produce efficiencies and cost savings, this will help projects move from the conceptual stage to the operational stage.
Q: What changes will need to happen for natural gas to become a more widely-used transportation fuel in the US? Who will be responsible for making these changes?
A: For LNG to be a more widely-used transportation fuel, the market needs vehicles that run on LNG and the infrastructure to refuel them in enough places to encourage the consumer to buy them. The market should be allowed to work to meet the needs and wants of the consumer. We see the market working now in respect to fleet vehicles and mass transit vehicles like buses.
I certainly see the market developing, though. The marketplace bears the responsibility for what products and services consumers will buy, although the government also has a role to ensure a level playing field and provide the opportunity for creative minds to get products to the market.
Q: The US is a growing force in shale gas, and Australia is a rising star in LNG. How will greater US and Australian LNG exports impact global trading dynamics?
The ability to move LNG cost-effectively from one market to another will hopefully increase the use of natural gas everywhere. Australia and the US are participants, but not the only players occupying the field.
For more information about the North America Gas Summit and Mr. Coopers panel session, titled LNG: an enabler for North America realizing its export potentialwhat does the future hold? please visit www.natgasamerica.com.
By Adrienne Blume, Process Editor