As Russia rattles its saber in Europe, many continental policymakers have clamored for America to open up its large glut of fracking-produced shale gas to the international market. That’s easier said than done, though, as shipping gas overseas requires the construction of expensive export and import terminals to facilitate the conversion from gas to liquid and back again.The U.S. just green-lit two new export facilities this week, and while they aren’t expected to come online anytime soon, they reflect the increasing importance of North American hydrocarbon supplies for the world market. The Hill reports:
The Louisiana and Florida facilities were evaluated under a new process implemented in August in an attempt to streamline approvals. […]The facilities announced Wednesday are only the second and third to obtain all the necessary approvals to export gas. Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass plant, also in southwest Louisiana, was the first.
Interestingly, one of the plants was initially constructed as an LNG import facility, where imported supplies could be re-gassified. Now, the plant in Cameron, Louisiana, will be retrofitted to liquify the gas for loading onto internationally bound tankers. Just a decade ago the U.S. was looking at ways to boost imports of natural gas, and now we’re scrambling to build the necessary infrastructure to export it. You could hardly ask for a better example of the shale boom’s transformative power.