WASHINGTON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday approved natural gas exports from a third U.S. facility as the government works through a long backlog of projects seeking permission to send gas abroad.
The export terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana, secured a conditional license from the Department of Energy to ship liquefied natural gas to all countries. The terminal is backed by BG Group Plc and Energy Transfer Partners LP's Southern Union Co.
The department's order gives the Lake Charles terminal permission to export up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day for 20 years. The approval is contingent upon the Lake Charles terminal receiving a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for construction of the facility.
The decision came nearly three months after Freeport LNG's Quintana Island, Texas, terminal got the go-ahead. This exceeded the eight-week wait that an Energy Department official recently suggested might be necessary between each of the nearly two dozen pending applications. But it still may set the stage for a more predictable review process going forward.
The United States has now given the green light to 5.6 billion cubic feet per day of gas exports from three projects. That represents about 8 percent of daily U.S. gas output.
Some lawmakers and companies have complained that the government is not moving fast enough to approve LNG exports. Other companies, who have benefited from cheap domestic natural gas prices, have urged caution in approving applications.
Before the Freeport project was approved on May 17, the department had not ruled on a gas export application for nearly two years, during which it studied the implications of allowing significant amounts of U.S. gas to be exported.
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