The U.S. Energy Department has finalized its plan to revamp the process for approving liquefied natural gas exports, largely codifying a process first proposed in May.
Beginning immediately, the DoE will only issue final rulings on whether exports are in the public interest after the FERC has completed an environmental review of the project.
The benefits of the change extend unevenly to the dozens of companies now vying to export U.S. natural gas, and some in the industry say the new process will exacerbate permitting delays for most companies.
The biggest winner under the new approach is Cheniere Energy (NYSEMKT:LNG), which already had gained FERC approval but faced a nearly two-year wait for the required Energy Department review of its proposed Sabine Pass expansion; it now moves to the front of the line to get a permit from the DoE.
Another winner is Exxon's (NYSE:XOM) Golden Pass project in southeast Texas, which also was far down the Energy Department’s list, even though it was well into the FERC review.
The new policy will not affect companies that already have received conditional approvals, such as Dominion's (NYSE:D) Cove Point project, Sempra's (NYSE:SRE) Cameron LNG project and Leucadia National's (NYSE:LUK) Oregon LNG project.