Dominion has filed a request with the Department of Energy to turn a Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Maryland into a facility that can both import and export gas. Currently, the Chesapeake Bay plant imports gas and ships it to U.S. markets via pipelines. But the company says the increased production in both the Utica and Marcellus Shale reserves has created a need for companies to export overseas. Dominion would need approval from the D.O.E as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state regulators. The plan is to begin construction in 2014 and have it up and running by 2016.
But some analysts are skeptical of the economic benefits of exporting shale gas. Jonathan Wolff, an analyst with ISI Group Inc. says building a facility to turn natural gas into a liquid would require so much capital it would add several dollars onto the current price of domestic natural gas. Wolff told a group of investors at the Shale Insight Conference that the market for gas overseas would have to be at least $12 per million cubic feet.