Qatar Boosts LNG Export Capacity Amid U.S. Approval Pause

In response to the Biden administration’s decision to halt approvals for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export hubs in the U.S., Qatar is accelerating the construction of additional LNG export capacity, as reported by the Financial Times on Sunday.

Officials announced plans for substantial long-term increases in natural gas production, aiming to raise the country’s capacity by 85% by the end of the decade, supplementing existing growth initiatives. Qatar is confident in the sustained demand for natural gas, particularly as Asian economies increasingly seek alternatives to coal.

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister and CEO of QatarEnergy, expressed the significance of the expansion, stating that it would take Qatar’s gas industry to “new horizons,” according to the Financial Times. The country recently discovered substantial new gas deposits, boosting its overall reserves by 14%. In the past year and a half, Qatari companies have secured two major long-term deals to supply natural gas to China. Shell’s report in February also predicted a 50% increase in global LNG demand by 2040.

In Asia, potential LNG buyers, including Japan and China, have been exploring alternative suppliers to mitigate disruptions caused by the U.S. moratorium on new export hubs, according to Bloomberg News. Concerns were raised about a potential increase in global supply imbalances and price volatility in Europe due to the U.S. decision to pause LNG export approvals, as noted by the president of Eurogas in a letter written before the decision.

The Biden administration suspended approvals for new LNG export terminals in January, expanding the Department of Energy’s approval review process to consider climate implications, economic outcomes, and energy security. Critics argue that the move would not reduce emissions but could increase them by promoting foreign natural gas production, including in Qatar and Russia. While elected Republicans and the U.S. natural gas industry opposed the decision, climate activists celebrated it as a significant victory.

The White House and the Department of Energy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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