Westerdale: U.S. natural gas exports are central

On May 25, 2023, Energy Futures Initiative Executive Director Rick Westerdale said the United States’ natural gas exports will play a central global role in energy security, climate, and food security goals. He gave his remarks during a webinar hosted by the National Capital Area Chapter of the United States Association for Energy Economics. In his presentation, titled “The Global Future of Natural Gas in a Low-Carbon World,” Westerdale highlighted the nine key takeaways of the EFI Foundation’s recent report on the role of U.S. natural gas exports.

Westerdale said lengthy permitting processes continue to be a hurdle at the local, state, and federal levels, hindering the buildout of natural gas infrastructure, which then affects financing.

“The timelines associated with multiple jurisdictions… can take years, resulting in key uncertainties that make projects unattractive to investors,” he said.

Westerdale said that industry will need to overcome these challenges, among others, to meet global deep decarbonization and energy security goals. He touched on how the deployment of current technologies and regulations to address greenhouse gas emissions such as methane can also help build public confidence in the industry and create a “social license to operate.”

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions… also makes good business sense by eliminating losses through venting and flaring, and monetizing those resources,” he said.

Westerdale said the United States is the largest exporter of natural gas, and this trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, with Europe and Asia being the largest importers of U.S. liquefied natural gas.

He further noted that “global decarbonization and energy security goals are not mutually exclusive for natural gas.” He highlighted the need for the United States to send clear and consistent signals to allies and trading partners on the future of U.S. liquified natural gas.

Westerdale said Europe’s industry needs natural gas supply in the near-term, but the long-term market for U.S. liquefied natural gas exports is uncertain. He urged a focus of the United States providing natural gas to countries that will have more enduring demand.

“Developed and developing countries like those in Asia will most likely be longer-term consumers of natural gas given their own affordability, energy security, and decarbonization goals,” Westerdale said.

– Kaycee Hubbard, Communications Intern

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