New Study Says U.S. Should Use Gas in Manufacturing Rather than Exporting as LNG

America’s Energy Advantage (AEA) called on the Department of Energy to use a new report from consultants at Charles River Associates (CRA) to overcome the rebuttable presumption for LNG exports created by the Natural Gas Act.

The report examines the economic trade-offs between LNG exports and manufacturing in the U.S. economy, and concludes that LNG exports could lead to lower employment and stifle the nascent manufacturing renaissance, hurting our balance of trade. America’s Energy Advantage (AEA) is a group of businesses and organizations dedicated to helping raise the awareness of the emerging renaissance in American manufacturing made possible by our country’s new abundant and affordable supplies of natural gas. Charles River Associates (NASDAQ: CRAI) is a leading management, economic and financial consulting services firm.

The Department of Energy is required by the Natural Gas Act to determine if exports of LNG are in the public interest and these data from CRA are designed to help the Department make these decisions, and overcome the “rebuttable presumption” contained in the law.

“The U.S. government must ensure that we can meet the present and rapidly growing future demand for natural gas in our country before we launch blindly into massive exports of LNG,” said Peter Huntsman , President and CEO of Huntsman Corporation. “The data in this report quite clearly indicates that our nation has much more to gain from using this abundant resource to manufacture value-added products, than from merely exporting this resource as LNG.”

The report’s findings are summarized as follows:

  • The U.S. economy stands to benefit more if natural gas is used in manufacturing than if it is exported as LNG.
  • More than $90 billion of gas-intensive U.S. manufacturing investment has been announced as a result of the abundance of inexpensive natural gas.
  • Relative to LNG exports at the same level of gas consumption, these investments could contribute annually:
  • At least twice as much GDP
  • More than eight times the amount of permanent jobs
  • More than four times the amount of construction jobs
  • However, if unchecked exports are allowed, these investments and their contributions to the U.S. economy will be jeopardized.
  • U.S. manufacturing reduces the trade deficit by $52 billion annually, compared to $18 billion for exporting the same level of natural gas as LNG.
  • A global LNG shortage of 20-35 Bcf per day is projected by 2030.
  • U.S. LNG exports would likely play a major role in remedying this, causing a supply shortage and a significant increase in domestic natural gas prices.
  • Domestic natural gas prices could triple under a high export scenario.
  • While other reports have conservative demand forecasts for domestic natural gas consumption and LNG exports, this report shows a case for:
  • Resurging manufacturing demand
  • Significant electricity switching from coal to gas due to EPA mandates
  • Compelling economics of switching to natural gas vehicles (NGV)
  • Strong international pressure to export U.S. LNG at prices up to $12-14/MMBtu
  • The NERA report, commissioned by the DOE, had severe methodological flaws.
  • NERA overestimated the costs of delivering U.S. exported LNG to Asian markets and the price elasticity of Asian importers.
  • NERA did not separately represent each of the gas-intensive components of the manufacturing sector and instead used an averaging approach which mutes their impact on the U.S. economy.

“On behalf of our membership, which consists of 700 not-for-profit, publicly owned natural gas utilities across the U.S., the American Public Gas Association (APGA) wants policymakers to know that we are concerned about the increased price of gas caused by unchecked LNG exports that would elevate consumers’ energy bills,” said Bert Kalisch , President and CEO of the American Public Gas Association.

“As the Department of Energy follows its legal obligation to determine what is in the national interest, it must study the findings of this report. Abundant supplies of low-cost natural gas give the U.S. a major competitive advantage in manufacturing that will create high-paying jobs.  Using domestic natural gas to grow our manufacturing sector and our exports of manufactured goods will create far more value for our economy than exporting natural gas alone.  A policy of unlimited exports could jeopardize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild the U.S. manufacturing sector and our middle class,” said Jennifer Diggins , Director of Public Affairs for Nucor Corporation.

“We believe America deserves a thoughtful, balanced natural gas policy,” said Kevin Kolevar , Vice President, Government Affairs and Public Policy at The Dow Chemical Company. “One that encourages rules-based international exports, protects U.S. consumers and continues to foster robust domestic investment in the nation’s manufacturing sector.”

Source: America’s Energy Advantage, March 12, 2013

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