The natural gas market not only has been benefiting from the cold weather but the risk trade as well. The trend of record setting demand for natural gas looks to continue and the uncertainty in Europe is helping the cause. With Russia in the background looking to flex its energy muscles and the possibility that they will gain control of Cypriot natural gas supply you would think that U.S. natural gas exports would be a no brainer. Well it would be except for the fact that we have to deal with Congress. Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Energy Dept. still reviewing comments on natural gas exports and that a House oversight panel will hold LNG export hearing on Tuesday. As of now the DOE has not taken a position on LNG exports official and lawmakers are divided over need for export limits. Reuters says that "The U.S. Energy Department will tell lawmakers on Tuesday that it is wading through nearly 200,000 comments it received in response to a report on the impact of natural gas exports, as the debate over sending more U.S. gas abroad continues. Released in December, the department-sponsored report gave a resounding endorsement of the economic benefits of exporting liquefied natural gas, saying the more exports, the better. But a vocal contingent of manufacturers and heavy industrial companies, as well as environmentalists, has blasted the report, by NERA Economic Consulting. They have called on the government to revisit the study using updated data and different criteria.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Christopher Smith will testify to lawmakers that the department has not taken a position on the NERA study or an earlier analysis by the Energy Information Administration. "DOE continues to review the comments that have been received... and will address those comments when it issues decisions on the applications," Smith said in prepared testimony to the House oversight committee. Smith's testimony was released ahead of the committee's hearing on LNG exports scheduled for 3 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. The last comment period on the export report wrapped up on Feb. 25. The department said it received more than 188,000 initial comments and about 2,700 additional comments. The shale gas bonanza has led to a natural gas glut in the United States, where production has quickly begun to outpace demand. Gas drillers argue that development will be curtailed if they are not able to tap into foreign markets beyond countries that have free trade agreements with the United States. Nearly 20 projects have sought permission from the Energy Department to export gas to new markets.”
Late Breaking From Bloomberg:
Iran for the first time sees the "possibility for a breakthrough” in negotiations next month over its disputed nuclear program, the Islamic Republic's ambassador to the United Nations said. Talks in Kazakhstan three weeks ago marked a "turning point” where the U.S. and five other world powers seemed "more realistic” about Iran's bottom-line position that it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful use, Mohammad Khazaee said in an interview March 18 at Bloomberg's New York headquarters. Khazaee, Iran's UN envoy since 2007, said the nuclear program has become a matter of "national pride, regardless of how much we need, how much it costs.” Economic sanctions haven't sapped Iran's resolve and, instead, have impeded talks by fueling Iran's suspicion of its critics, he said.