Business organizations from the US, Europe and Japan called on the Biden administration to reverse a decision to freeze approvals of new licenses for liquefied natural gas export facilities.
“With numerous forecasts projecting global natural gas demand to rise well into the next decade, additional supplies of LNG will be needed to supply world markets,” the US Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope and Japan’s Keidanren said in a joint letter to President Joe Biden. “We know this demand can be met in a manner that continues progress on emissions reductions.”
The US Energy Department said Friday it had halted approvals while it scrutinizes how LNG exports affect climate change, the economy and national security. Biden has faced pressure from environmentalists concerned that the buildout of LNG export plants ensures the fossil fuel will be burned for generations to come.
Separately, an official at Japan’s trade ministry said that the government is concerned about the possibility of delays at facilities that haven’t yet gained approval. While Japan doesn’t see an immediate impact on LNG procurement, the government is in talks with its US counterparts, he added.
If every one of the already-licensed projects moves forward and actually gets built, US LNG exports will almost double. The Department of Energy decision likely won’t result in any significant tightening of global gas markets, as affected projects wouldn’t come online until at least 2027, Goldman Sachs Group said in a note.
The US became the world’s top LNG exporter last year, transforming into a critical supplier to Europe after the slashing of Russian pipeline gas supplies to the region. Europe was the top destination for US LNG last year, while Japan is its largest buyer in Asia. Fossil fuel producers including Chevron Corp. and Shell Plc say that gas will play a long-term role in the energy transition, and more LNG facilities will be needed to meet future demand.
The US Chamber of Commerce lobbies on behalf of its businesses and has members including energy producers. Japan’s Keidanren includes companies such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Group Corp., while BusinessEurope represents 42 member organizations from 36 countries.