Oct. 25–If we can fault the new administration in Washington on aspects of trade policy, the good news is that exporting of energy is something that President Donald Trump supports, and it is a policy that is good for Louisiana as well as the nation.
Countries in Asia are huge consumers of Louisiana energy, particularly in the form of liquefied natural gas generated by U.S. advances in drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques. Those consumers include our friends in Japan and our somewhat-less-than-friendly trading partner in the Communist government of mainland China.
Still, they need the gas, so it is a trading relationship unlikely to change even in the combative Trump administration.
The deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, Louisiana native Dan Brouillette — he is a businessman and was a congressional aide to former U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin from our state — sketched out these realities in a recent trip to Tokyo.
He told the Associated Press that the U.S. is working with Japan and others to build facilities for U.S. LNG exports and improve their energy security. Japan is the world’s biggest importer of LNG.
“The world is right here in Asia,” Brouillette said in Tokyo. “Demand for LNG is very, very high here. There is an enormous amount of opportunities not only for U.S. businesses but also for Japanese businesses as well as other Asian businesses.”
Even in China, where a trade war with the United States over tariffs is in full cry, the rising demand for energy will require more importing of LNG in the coming years and decades. Brouillette isn’t worried that that will change.
That’s good for the nation’s trade deficit, but it is also particularly good for Louisiana. Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG Terminal is a nearly $20 billion facility on the Louisiana-Texas border, and Cameron LNG’s $10 billion project in Hackberry is right on its heels. Cheniere’s facility in 2016 became the first in the U.S. to export LNG. Cameron LNG is under construction and could send shipments next year.
Louisiana economic development officials estimate that there could be another $52 billion in projects based on announcements by companies. Those are unlikely to be rejected by a Trump administration eager to see energy exports increasing and thus reducing the trade deficit.
With the vast increase in the production of natural gas in this country, exports are a no-brainer. In fact, the big problem is having enough pipeline capacity — generous in Louisiana, but sparser elsewhere — to get natural gas to market.
These are positive trends overall and should be celebrated in our state.
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