U.S. Will Begin Exporting Its “Fracked” Gas
American drillers have done so well with the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to reach underground stores of natural gas that they now have too much on their hands and want to export some of it abroad. But such a move could result in higher gas prices in the U.S., as well as even more fracking operations that can endanger the environment.
In Louisiana, Cheniere Energy's $10-billion Sabine Pass natural gas terminal originally built to import natural gas is now being converted to facilitate the shipping of fracking-produced gas to Great Britain. Initial shipments are scheduled for 2015, with nearly 20 tons of natural gas to be transported per year.
These efforts represent quite a turnaround for the industry. Less than a decade ago, domestic production of natural gas was so low that facilities were being built in U.S. ports to import foreign natural gas.
But the fracking revolution has produced an abundance of natural gas, causing the price to drop to around $4 per million BTU (British Thermal Unit).
All of this may be good news for gas companies, but not necessarily good for consumers or the environment.
Consumer groups and some manufacturers that use natural gas oppose expanded exports, claiming the exports could drive up domestic prices and make manufacturing more expensive.
Meanwhile, many environmental groups oppose the exports because of fears that increased drilling could lead to environmental damage. Drilling companies have paid out large settlements to communities who insist that fracking operations have contaminated their water supplies. There is also evidence of a link between fracking-related injection wells and the onset of earthquakes.
To Learn More:
US to Begin Exporting 'Fracked' Gas (by David Shukman, BBC News)
The Unintended Consequences of Exporting Natural Gas (by Bryan Walsh, Time)
Fracking Boom Prompts Foreign Export Of U.S. Gas, Could Drive Up Prices At Home (by Matthew Daly, TPM)
Cheap Natural Gas is Good for Profits, but not for Jobs (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
Exxon Exports Fracking to Russia…and Opens Gulf of Mexico to Russians (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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