UPDATE 2-Exxon CEO says delays in gas export permits hurt U.S.

Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:05pm EDT

By Ayesha Rascoe and Valerie Volcovici
    WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) - Delays in approval of more
natural gas export projects are costing U.S. companies millions
of dollars a day and giving a leg up to rival countries also
looking to boost exports, the chief of Exxon Mobil Corp 
said on Thursday.  
    The comments by Exxon's Rex Tillerson came hours after new
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told lawmakers he hopes to
"expeditiously" begin evaluating the more than a dozen
applications awaiting approval to export liquefied natural gas
(LNG).
    "It's a very competitive marketplace. It's not like people
are just going to stand at our door like panting dogs just
waiting for us to give this (LNG) to them," Tillerson said while
answering questions after an event at the Asia Society focused
on Asian energy security.
    Tillerson said he left a meeting with Moniz on Wednesday
with no clear idea of when the company's Golden Pass LNG project
- a $10 billion joint venture with Qatar Petroleum - would be
approved. 
    "I don't want to start on this process if you tell me its
going to take five years for you to get around to my
application," Tillerson said. 
    U.S. companies need authorization from the Department of
Energy to export gas to all but a handful of countries with free
trade agreements. Japan and India are among the countries keen
to gain access to U.S. supplies.       
    The Energy Department ended a two-year freeze in reviewing
liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications in May, when it
approved gas exports to all countries from Freeport LNG's
terminal in Texas. 
    Shortly after that move Moniz, who was sworn in on May 21,
said he would undertake a thorough review of the gas export
review process, promising to ensure that current data was being
used to make these decisions. 
    At his first appearance at a Congressional panel since his
swearing-in, Moniz told lawmakers at a House Energy and Commerce
committee hearing on Thursday the review should wrap up soon.
    "We're getting ready to begin evaluating the dockets on a
case-by-case basis," Moniz said. There would "absolutely" be
additional decisions this year, he added, without giving a more
specific time frame.    
    Companies have lined up to export excess gas produced from
the nation's shale boom. The gas can fetch higher prices abroad.
    Other backers of proposed export projects include Dominion
Resources Inc, Sempra Energy, BG Group Plc 
and Veresen Inc. 
    Some lawmakers and a group of manufacturers led by Dow
Chemical Co, have called on the department to be
cautious, arguing that unfettered exports could harm the U.S.
economy by raising the price of gas at home.
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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