Wyoming natural gas could be bound for customers overseas.
The owners of a proposed liquified natural gas terminal designed to accept shipments of natural gas for U.S. customers now intend to ship U.S. gas overseas.
The Jordan Cove project in Coos Bay, Ore., includes a pipeline to a natural gas pipeline hub in Malin, Ore. The 680-mile Ruby Pipeline, which just opened for service in July, stretches from Opal, Wyo., west to Malin.
The Ruby Pipeline now carries Wyoming natural gas westward. If the Jordan Cove project moves ahead, it could carry Wyoming gas to customers overseas.
It’s the latest in a shift of U.S. natural gas terminals from imports to exports due to the boom in U.S. natural gas development.
Domestic natural gas production is expected to climb more than 6 percent from 2010, to approximately 65.8 billion cubic feet a day this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in September.
The rise in U.S. production is keeping the price of natural gas low and sapping the need to import gas from overseas or through pipelines from Mexico and Canada.
So companies are looking for new and foreign buyers, boosting pipeline exports and pushing plans to export gas that is converted into liquid form for ease of shipment.
The Department of Energy in May approved the first permit in the lower 48 states for a liquified natural gas terminal in Louisiana. That terminal handles imports but will be retrofitted to allow for the export of gas. The project is one of about 10 in the U.S. seeking permission to ship gas overseas.
The Jordan Cove project won’t start shipping gas in the immediate future, however. The owners are still working to secure buyers, and the project is a touchstone of controversy for landowners, environmental and conservation groups and others in Oregon.
The switch from imports to exports could add an additional wrinkle to the protests, a representative of opposition groups told energy industry news publication Platts LNG Daily last month.
“It would be one thing to import a good that would be used domestically. But exporting a domestic product that they have long advocated that we need domestically, it is a bait and switch,” said Susan Jane Brown, a staff attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center, who represents environmental organizations and landowners, according to the publication.
It’s an attitude that could resonate with us in Wyoming, as well. I regularly hear concerns about shipping Wyoming coal, uranium and other sources of energy overseas, particularly amid a bipartisan push for a decrease in dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Despite such concern in this case, export ports such as Jordan Cove could supply a new and potentially crucial market for Wyoming gas.
It’s fairly common knowledge that Wyoming is the largest energy exporter of any U.S. state. But that energy generally goes to fellow Americans.
Now foreign customers are increasingly taking a piece of that supply.
Love it or hate it, it’s the new reality.