As the production of American natural gas continues to outpace expectations, drillers are poised to sell more of their product overseas to countries like Japan and India. That’s bad news for the American manufacturing industry that fears exporting natural gas in liquid form (known as liquified natural gas or LNG) will lead to an increase in price on the cheap, domestic energy supply the recovering sector has come to rely on.
This week, the New York Times tells that story through the eyes of Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical’s CEO, who has become a persona non grata amongst his fellow capitalists. Dow is a major consumer of shale gas which is used to make plastics and Liveris wants to make sure there’s enough to go around for his company at the same low prices in the years to come.
In fact, the Times reports Liveris’ resistance to exporting LNG has prompted him to found a lobbying group called America’s Energy Advantage. The organization is mounting a public campaign to promote both the job growth and profits associated with natural gas development, as well as its cost-savings to consumers.
But as the U.S. Department of Energy considers applications for several new export terminals, business leaders tell the Times Liveris is not helping their cause.
More from The New York Times:
Not surprisingly Mr. Liveris has become a lightning rod among economists and business leaders, particularly those in the oil and gas drilling business, who say he is espousing protectionism merely to promote the interests of his own company.
“He is coming across as a hypocrite and a self-serving person,” said Mr. Souki, chief executive of Cheniere Energy, which won the first permit to export gas, from its Sabine Pass, La., terminal. “He wants free trade for everything he manufactures but no free trade for anybody else.”
Mr. Liveris concedes that the interests of his company coincide with his views. But he says that as the chief executive of Dow Chemical he also represents the interests of energy consumers at large, and he understands better than most what high gas prices can mean for the economy.
An analysis by the Energy Information Administration in June showed the use of natural gas by manufacturers rose three percent compared with the same period last year. Liveris criticized a 2012 report by the DOE that predicted exports could lead to moderate price increases, but otherwise gave the thumbs up to selling natural gas abroad.
The DOE is expected to move on some applications for export terminals by the end of this year.