October 28, 2011 / 6:47 PM / 8 years ago

Senate panel to look at US nat gas exports Nov. 8

* Comes after BG-Cheniere announces export deal

* Will also look at Alaska pipeline issue-Murkowski

WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - The global market for the U.S. bounty of natural gas and the government’s role in permitting the exports will come under scrutiny from a panel of U.S. senators next month.

The Nov. 8 hearing of the Senate Energy Committee comes on the heels of the announcement that Cheniere Energy will build an export terminal for liquefied natural gas in an $8 billion, 20-year deal with Britain’s BG Group

The committee has not yet announced who will speak at the hearing, a spokeswoman said.

New drilling techniques have unlocked vast reserves of natural gas in the United States, driving down domestic prices for the fuel and raising prospects for exports. But consumer groups have said they worry exports could boost prices for users at a time when the economy is struggling to recover.

Five projects across the United States have applied for construction and export licenses, seeking long-term deals predominantly with buyers in Asia where prices are four times higher than those in the United States.

Together, the planned U.S. terminals could export nearly 8 billion cubic feet of gas by the end of the decade, which amounts to about 12 percent of daily U.S. production.

The boom in natural gas production in the lower 48 states has also affected plans to build a pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope, and this week the state said it is examining exports to Asia.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Energy Committee, said the pipeline debate in her home state of Alaska will be part of the Nov. 8 hearing.

“The world is seeing massive changes in terms of natural gas supply and markets, and Alaskans must be able to adjust to those changes,” Murkowski said in a statement.

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