Fracking In California Under Spotlight As Some Local Municipalities Issue Bans

In yesterday’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee testimony, EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski said US natural gas looks poised for significant export growth over the next 25 years – via both pipeline and LNG – but numerous indigenous and exogenous factors could alter that outlook.

The answer to the hearing’s question-phrased title – “Importing Energy, Exporting Jobs — Can it be reversed?” – appears to be “yes,” at least in the case of natural gas. US natural gas imports have significantly decreased in recent years, while pipeline exports to Mexico are rapidly increasing and several LNG export facilities move through regulatory and investment decision processes. Mexican export pipeline expansion and LNG export plant approval/construction are medium-term job creating forces.

Another interesting aspect of Sieminski’s testimony worth highlighting is considerable forecast growth in US transport sector gas consumption, particularly for freight trucks, which burn crude oil-equivalent natural gas volumes of 290,000 b/d by 2040.

natgas frieght trucking

The inclusion of Alaska in the future US LNG export picture is also notable, given the financial and logistical challenges facing those proposed projects. Read additional Breaking Energy Alaska LNG coverage here and here.

US natural gas imports exports

Here are Sieminski’s comments on the EIA’s long-term US natural gas export forecasts and the complex web of factors that could affect those expectations:

“Pipeline exports of U.S. natural gas to Mexico grow by 6% per year, from 0.6 Tcf in 2012 to 3.1 Tcf in 2040. Over the same period, as more U.S. demand is met by domestic production, net pipeline imports from Canada fall to less than 1 Tcf. From 2012 to 2040, U.S. net exports of LNG increase by 3.5 Tcf, including 800 Bcf of LNG originating in Alaska, with the remaining volumes originating from export terminals located along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In general, future U.S. LNG exports depend on a number of factors that are difficult to anticipate, including the speed and extent of price convergence in global natural gas markets, the extent to which natural gas competes with oil in U.S. and international gas markets, and the pace of natural gas supply growth outside the United States.

Projected U.S. natural gas exports are sensitive to the abundance of tight oil and shale gas resources, the pace of technology advances that influences drilling costs, the recovery factor, and evolution of global oil prices.” – Adam Sieminski, US EIA Administrator