The US government should ensure that international trade of US natural gas, and potentially crude oil, will offer opportunities for the domestic shipping industry, maritime groups say.
WASHINGTON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. government should ensure that international trade of U.S. natural gas, and potentially crude oil, will offer opportunities for the domestic shipping industry, maritime groups said on Wednesday.
Booming shale gas production has put the United States on track to become a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the next few years.
While it would take time for U.S. shipyards to scale up to produce to the vessels needed to transport LNG overseas, shipping industry groups encouraged lawmakers at a House transportation subcommittee hearing to pursue efforts to encourage the use of U.S. flagged vessels.
"The export of LNG offers an opportunity for the United States merchant marine to expand and to create significant new job opportunities for American mariners," said Don Marcus, president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots.
Congressman John Garamendi, the top Democrat on the House maritime transportation subcommittee, and Duncan Hunter, the Republican chairman of the subcommittee, introduced a bill in July that would require the Transportation Department to develop a program to promote the use of U.S. flagged vessels for LNG exports.
The bill would also require the department to give priority to applications for deepwater port terminals that would use U.S. ships.
Marcus urged lawmakers to expand the bill to crude oil exports, if the decades old ban on such shipments is lifted.
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