US chemical group retracts stated support for natural gas exports

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has retracted a week-old statement on its website in support of US natural gas exports, officials with the trade group confirmed on Friday.

Dow Chemical severed ties with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) after that group endorsed exports and had hinted that it could do the same with the ACC.

“The statement accurately reflects executive committee policy dating to February 2012,” Scott Openshaw, a spokesman for the American Chemistry Council, said in a statement.

“However, the issue and its implications for some of our members have evolved. We therefore plan to further discuss this issue to assure all members’ views are fully represented and the implications understood.”

Dow said it was pleased the ACC removed its endorsement, according to published media reports.

The move underscores rising tension between the US gas industry, which seeks access to global demand and potentially higher prices, and the petrochemical sector, which has benefitted in recent years from relatively cheap and available natural gas feedstock.

Dow Chemical, of course, is seeking limits on gas exports. Dow CEO Andrew Liveris has said unchecked exports will increase domestic prices and threaten investments in the US manufacturing sector.

Dow has accused trade groups such as NAM of siding with member companies that are in the natural-gas industry, rather than adopt “a position of neutrality on an issue that splits its membership”.

NAM has maintained that sales of natural gas to foreign buyers would create opportunities for US businesses, a position on which the ACC did not disagree, at least initially.

“We respect the marketplace and rely on it to determine who the consumers of natural gas will be,” ACC chief executive Cal Dooley said a week ago, prior to the retraction.

ExxonMobil, another NAM member company, is proposing to build a natural-gas export terminal in Texas. It has accused Dow and other companies opposed to limitless exports of being “protectionist”.

A study conducted last month by the US government concluded that exports would benefit the nation’s economy. There are about 15 proposed export projects awaiting approval from the Obama administration.

Additional reporting by Dow Jones Newswires

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