WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department on Wednesday cleared the way for faster approval of small scale exports of natural gas including liquefied natural gas to Latin American countries by issuing a rule that does away with a public interest review of the shipments.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in release that the so-called small scale rule will reduce “the regulatory burden on American businesses while also providing significant benefits to our trading partners in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.” The rule was published in the Federal Register.
Previously, companies that wanted to export natural gas to non-free trade agreement countries were subject to a Department of Energy (DOE) public interest review.
With the final rule, the DOE will grant approval to export natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to non-free trade agreement countries, provided they export no more than 51.75 billion cubic feet per year of natural gas, and that the proposed export qualifies for a categorical exclusion under the DOE’s requirements under federal environmental law.
Many Latin American countries do not have enough natural gas demand to support LNG imports from large terminals and conventional LNG tankers. But U.S. companies are trying other ways to get gas to the market. American LNG Marketing LLC, has exported more than 145 cargoes of small-scale LNG shipments from its facility in Florida to Barbados and Bermuda over the past few years.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Susan Thomas