Japan looking for assurance on LNG export policy: US senator
Washington (Platts)--23Jan2013/520 pm EST/2220 GMT
During US Senator Lisa Murkowski's recent trip to Asia, the Alaska
Republican said Japan's deputy prime minister Taro Aso pressed her for
assurance that the US could soon begin exporting liquefied natural gas to
address his country's urgent energy needs.
It was an assurance she could not give, the top Republican on the Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee told reporters Wednesday.
"It's one thing to come calling and offering up a resource, it's another
to be able to deliver it," Murkowski said. "We're not able to make that
Demand for energy imports in Japan may be at historic highs after its
energy policies were thrown into disarray following the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear disaster in 2011. Japan, which was 30% reliant on nuclear power and
planned to be 50% by 2025, now imports nearly all its power.
Murkowski, who toured the damage from Fukushima while in Japan last
week, said Japanese lawmakers are "scrambling" to find enough energy to meet
its needs, not just from LNG, but from coal and fuel oil as well.
"Basically anything that will give them power," she said.
This unprecedented demand has created a substantial opportunity for US
energy producers and exporters, but the timing could ultimately frustrate any
efforts, Murkowski said.
While plans are in the works for an estimated $65 billion project to
export LNG from Alaska's North Slope, Murkowski said Wednesday that the
pipeline likely would not be ready until 2019, at the earliest. Alaskan
Governor Sean Parnell recently set a February 15 deadline for the producers
and TransCanada Corp. to settle on a concept for the pipeline.
At the same time, the Department of Energy has yet to decide whether it
will approve licenses for the export of LNG to countries, including Japan,
which do not have a formal free-trade agreement with the US.
Under current law, DOE is supposed to quickly approve applications to
export LNG to countries that have FTAs with the US. But in cases involving
non-FTA countries, DOE must determine whether those exports are in the US'
A recent DOE-commissioned study found that expanding LNG exports would
have a minimal impact on domestic prices while boosting the US economy, but
lawmakers, including Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and the incoming
chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, have questioned the veracity of the
report's data. The first round of public comments on that report are due this
Murkowski said that in Japan, and also in Taiwan, where she also
visited, the demand for LNG is growing dramatically as they move from nuclear
"The interest in Asia is clearly there, now it's up to us to make that
determination as to whether or not that resource will be made available," she
Murkowski also said Wednesday that she hopes to unveil a long-awaited
energy blueprint as early as next week.
She said the plan will be an outline, not a specific bill, and is "meant
to be the foundation for good ideas on energy issues."
--Brian Scheid, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Carla Bass, email@example.com