WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department on Tuesday approved exports from Sempra Energy's Cameron liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Louisiana as the Obama administration moves forward with its goal of expanding the global market for the fuel.
The conditional approval of exports from the terminal to countries with which the United States does not have free trade agreements, such as India and Japan, was the sixth approval by the department since 2011, and the first since mid-November.
Cameron's application to export up to 1.7 billion cubic feet per day brings total U.S. authorized LNG exports to almost 8.5 bcf feet per day, once the terminals are constructed and working at full capacity.
Sempra shares jumped on news the approval was expected, and in early afternoon trading were up 1.2 percent at $93.74.
The latest export approval confirms that the review process is becoming "largely depoliticized," said Leslie Palti-Guzman, a gas analyst for the Eurasia Group. The consulting firm predicted that permitting would "continue unabated through 2014."
But some analysts cautioned that a pause in approvals could still be near as licensed export volumes near the threshold of 12 bcf a day considered in DOE-commissioned studies by the Energy Information Administration and NERA Economic Consulting.
"We think a cautious agency may be unlikely to exceed the upper-bound of the range of studied outcomes," ClearView Energy Partners said in a research note.
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