United States companies are primed to increase their exports of liquid natural gas (LNG), which currently serves as one of the principal sources of energy production. Although agreements to supply more LNG were already in place, exports accelerated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February—an event that has caused demand for LNG to rise globally. This greater demand has led to an escalation in LNG costs both domestically and internationally that will, according to natural gas executives in the United States, lead to higher energy prices for consumers in the coming months. Once again, some of these natural gas executives have used these circumstances to take aim at regulations halting pipeline construction in Appalachia. For example, Kevin Little, senior vice president for natural gas at Macquarie Energy, has claimed that the ‘regulatory burdens’ preventing pipelines from being constructed have left the region unable to increase production to meet higher demands, resulting in higher prices for consumers. Furthermore, he claims that the lack of new pipelines in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays [the large natural gas reservoirs in Appalachia] will shift capital out of the region, contributing to even higher prices.
It is interesting to note that of the roughly 70 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of LNG produced in the United States per day, nearly 25 Bcf already come from the Marcellus area—6.5 Bcf come from the Utica area—whereas the next highest production region in the U.S. produces under 15 Bcf per day. Furthermore, any new pipeline construction would not be completed for years and would therefore not impact the amount of LNG presently available. Why is an already burdened region being blamed for an increase in prices? As many citizens have begun asking, are pipeline regulations really to blame? Is this just another excuse for greedy natural gas executives to make money off the backs of consumers?