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LNG Exporting Heavyweights Meet With U.S. Industry


By Chris Baltimore, Reuters

WASHINGTON, June 14 (Reuters) - Four major international exporters of liquefied natural gas met with U.S. utility and industry executives on Wednesday to discuss future supply.

Government officials from Nigeria, Algeria, Qatar and Egypt met with executives from about 30 U.S. companies in the closed-door session organized by former U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's consulting shop.

"This is an opportunity for the actual consumers to talk face to face with the producers," said Majida Mourad, vice president and partner at the Abraham Group LLC.

The event drew high-level officials, including former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Nigerian Oil Minister Edmund Daukoru, who is also the president of the OPEC oil producing cartel.

Qatari Oil Minister Abdullah al-Attiya, Algeria Energy Minister Chakib Khelil and Hany Soliman from Egypt's Petroleum Ministry also attended. Qatar and Algeria are also OPEC members.

U.S. companies attending included manufacturing giants like Dow Chemical Co. , natural gas utility KeySpan Corp. and Cheniere Energy Inc. , which operates some U.S. LNG import terminals.

U.S. industry lobbying groups like the Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association and the American Chemistry Council were also involved.

Nigeria, Qatar and Algeria are all members of the OPEC oil cartel, and each country holds substantial natural gas reserves which do not fall under OPEC's quota-setting process.

LNG currently accounts for about 2 percent of U.S. natural gas supplies but imports are growing and could meet about 10 percent of total U.S. gas needs by 2010, according to government estimates.

The expected jump in LNG imports reflects the growing gap between U.S. gas production and future growth in demand, especially from new power plants that are mostly fueled by natural gas.

That means LNG producers must build 15 more giant "trains" to process the gas into liquid form and an equivalent number of U.S. import terminals must be built, Abraham said in the event program. Each of those projects will cost upwards of $1 billion, he said.

LNG is natural gas altered for transportation aboard special tankers. The gas, when cooled to minus 259 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 162 Celsius), changes into a liquid and shrinks to less than 1/600 of its original volume.

Upon arrival at a terminal, the LNG is returned to a gaseous state and fed into pipelines.

2006 abraham event

Key Participants included:
Spencer Abraham
Charif Souki
Alan Greenspan
H.E. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah
H.E. Chakib Khelil
H.E. Hany Soliman
H.E. Dr. Edmund Daukoru
Faisal Al-Suwaidi
Majida Mourad
Joe McMonigle