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LNG EXPORT: U.S. Gas Exports Put on Back Burner

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By TENNILLE TRACY

The Obama administration is telling Japan and other allied countries they will have to wait before moving forward on plans to buy American natural gas, people involved in the talks said.

A dramatic increase in U.S. natural-gas production has led several U.S. companies, including Sempra Energy SRE +0.23% and Dominion Resources Inc., D +0.15% to seek permits from the Department of Energy to export gas to countries that lack free-trade agreements with the U.S. Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM -0.73% Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said Wednesday his company was looking at exporting from the U.S. Gulf Coast and Canada.

Sempra and Dominion are working with Japanese partners that want to import the gas as their country looks for new power sources. The U.S. currently exports relatively small amounts of natural gas via pipelines to Canada and Mexico, but a wave of recent export proposals marks the first time in decades that companies have sought to liquefy U.S. gas and transport it overseas.

But exports have become a hot-button topic for some lawmakers in Washington and have highlighted uncertainty about what kind of energy power the U.S. wants to become as companies unearth huge supplies of natural gas in shale rock.

“We are going to have to answer some basic questions about our role as a producer,” Michael Levi, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said. “The fact that some of these debates have been so difficult stems from their novelty.”

Japan’s prime minister raised the gas-export issue with President Barack Obama at an April 30 meeting, one of several occasions on which Tokyo has pushed the administration.

But the U.S. has told Japan, a leading military ally in the Pacific, it will have to wait, in large part because of the political sensitivities, participants in the talks said.

“I think it’s going to require more people taking a look at it,” an administration official said, adding, “We’re very sympathetic to Japan. They’re in a very difficult situation.”

Following the disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant last year, Japan pulled the plug on all of its nuclear reactors, forcing it to replace a power source that generated about 30% of its electricity. The government is studying whether to restart some of the reactors, but nuclear power is likely to play a smaller role in five or 10 years.

That is when the U.S. natural gas could start arriving, but only if the U.S. grants permits to export terminals that would liquefy the gas for shipping across the Pacific.

Japan isn’t the only country waiting. “The requests come from everywhere,” the administration official said. Natural gas is much cheaper in the U.S. than in Europe and Asia, where the fuel’s value is often tied to the price of oil. Companies importing American gas would be able to reduce costs with contracts tied to the lower U.S. prices.

Mr. Tillerson laid out the case for exports at Exxon’s shareholder meeting Wednesday, saying they would create jobs and help the U.S. trade balance. Sen. Lisa Murkowksi, a Republican from Alaska, asked President Obama in April to expedite permits for natural-gas exports. She said exports could give Alaska a market for gas from its North Slope, which lacks a gas pipeline to the lower 48 states.

Opponents, including Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and some other congressional Democrats, say the U.S. could boost its energy security by keeping its natural gas at home. Oil-and-gas entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, in an interview, objected to the idea of selling the gas at a discount to global prices. “You’re kind of giving your own stuff away, and it’s stupid to do that,” said Mr. Pickens, who wants U.S. trucks to use natural gas.

Japanese officials said they recognized the Obama administration’s political challenges.

“It is difficult for the U.S. to say yes [to exports] because of the presidential election,” said Hirohide Hirai, director of the petroleum and natural-gas division of Japan’s economy ministry. “There won’t be any deal with any country before November.”

U.S. officials say they are weighing how exports would affect job creation, trade and the domestic price of natural gas. A price spike would hurt consumers and weaken a competitive advantage enjoyed by U.S. manufacturers that use natural gas as a raw material. An Energy Department assessment is due later this year, and an administration official said decisions will follow in a “timely manner.”

—Mitsuru Obe and Isabel Ordonez contributed to this article.

Write to Tennille Tracy at tennille.tracy@dowjones.com

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Politics sank Keystone XL, Exxon says

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Published: March. 12, 2012 at 6:47 AM

HOUSTON, March 12 (UPI) — A decision to delay a permit for TransCanada‘s Keystone XL oil pipeline was based largely on U.S. politics, an energy executive said.

U.S. President Barack Obama in January denied a permit for TransCanada to build the billion-dollar Keystone XL oil pipeline. Republican leaders had tried to push the permit through by including the pipeline in a bill that extended payroll tax benefits. Obama rejected the permit because of an “arbitrary” deadline proposed in the legislation.

Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson told a major energy conference in Houston that industry leaders were practicing due diligence with the project but it was the U.S. political system that was getting in the way of development.

The decision to deny the initial permit for TransCanada, Tillerson said, was because of “political calculations” in Washington.

“In the end, it was also a disservice to public employees who are charged with overseeing this process and who met their obligations,” he was quoted by the Platts news service as saying. “We must continue to engage elected officials of the public to communicate the consequences of failing to move forward with such strategic opportunities.”

Backers of the pipeline describe it as a “shovel-ready” project that would shield the U.S. market from the effects that Middle East tensions have on the oil market. Critics say crude oil from Canada, designated for Keystone XL, is one of the dirtiest types of crude oil.

TransCanada can reapply after it settles on a route through Nebraska.

Read more: UPI

ExxonMobil Plans Five-Year Investment of $185 Billion to Develop New Energy Supplies

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March 08, 2012 09:00 AM Eastern Time

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) plans to invest approximately $185 billion over the next five years to develop new supplies of energy to meet expected growth in demand, Chairman and CEO Rex W. Tillerson said today in a presentation at the New York Stock Exchange.

“During challenging times for the global economy, ExxonMobil continues to invest to deliver the energy needed to underpin economic recovery and growth,” Tillerson said in a presentation to investment analysts.

Tillerson said that even with significant efficiency gains, ExxonMobil expects global energy demand to increase by 30 percent by 2040, compared to 2010 levels. Demand for electricity will make natural gas the fastest growing major energy source and oil and natural gas are expected to meet 60 percent of energy needs over the next three decades.

To help meet that demand, ExxonMobil is anticipating an investment profile of approximately $37 billion per year through the year 2016.

“An unprecedented level of investment will be needed to develop new energy technologies to expand supply of traditional fuels and advance new energy sources,” said Tillerson. “We are developing a diverse portfolio of high-quality opportunities across all resource types and geographies.”

A total of 21 major oil and gas projects will begin production between 2012 and 2014. In 2012 and 2013, the company expects to start up nine major projects and anticipates adding over 1 million net oil-equivalent barrels per day by 2016.

At the meeting the company outlined its major achievements in 2011 and plans for the future. Highlights include:

  • ExxonMobil replaced 107 percent of its 2011 production (116 percent excluding asset sales), increasing proved reserves to 24.9 billion oil equivalent barrels. It was the 18th consecutive year the company replaced more than 100 percent of its production, with proved reserve additions of 1.8 billion oil-equivalent barrels.
  • Nine major upstream projects are expected to start-up in the next two years including four in West Africa, Kashagan Phase 1 in Kazakhstan and the Kearl Oil Sands project in Canada.
  • In the downstream, the company completed a large project at the Thailand refinery, which is expected to increase the supply of lower sulfur motor fuels by more than 50 thousand barrels per day. Additional projects are under way, including new facilities at ExxonMobil’s Singapore refinery and at a joint-venture refinery in Saudi Arabia.
  • A major expansion at the Singapore chemicals facilities is nearing completion. Commissioning and startup activities are expected to continue through 2012 and will provide a world-scale integrated platform with unparalleled feedstock flexibility. The expansion will add 2.6 million tonnes per year of additional capacity and will help meet demand growth in Asia Pacific.

This is the 10th year that ExxonMobil has made an annual presentation to analysts at the New York Stock Exchange.

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT: Projections, expectations, business plans, and other statements of future events or conditions in this release are forward-looking statements. Actual future results, including demand growth and mix; capital expenditures; resource recoveries; production rates and growth; and project plans, schedules, and outcomes could differ materially due to changes in market conditions affecting the oil and gas industry, including long-term oil and gas price levels; the occurrence and duration of economic recessions; future technological developments; political or regulatory developments; reservoir performance; timely completion of development projects; the outcome of commercial negotiations; unexpected technical or operating events; and other factors discussed in Item 1A of ExxonMobil’s most recent Form 10-K and posted in the Investors section of our website. (www.exxonmobil.com)

Proved reserves in this release, for 2009 and later years, are based on current SEC definitions, but for prior years the referenced proved reserve volumes are determined on bases that differ from SEC definitions in effect at the time. Specifically, for years prior to 2009 included in our statement of 18 straight years of at least 100 percent replacement, reserves are determined using the price and cost assumptions we use in managing the business, not the historic prices used in SEC definitions. Reserves determined on ExxonMobil’s pricing basis also include oil sands and equity company reserves for all periods. Prior to 2009, these volumes were excluded from SEC reserves.

“Resources” and “resource base” include quantities of discovered oil and gas that are not yet classified as proved reserves, but that are expected ultimately to be recovered in the future. The term “resource base” is not intended to correspond to SEC definitions such as “probable” or “possible” reserves.

See the “Frequently Used Terms” posted in the Investors section of our website for more information on proved reserves and resources.

About ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world’s growing energy needs. ExxonMobil holds an industry-leading inventory of resources, is the largest refiner and marketer of petroleum products, and its chemical company is one of the largest in the world. For more information, visit www.exxonmobil.com.

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ExxonMobil
Media Relations, 972-444-1107

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Alaska Governor, BP, Conoco and Exxon Discuss LNG Export

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Governor Sean Parnell met yesterday in Anchorage with the chief executive officers from BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil​ to discuss alignment between the three companies on commercializing the North Slope’s vast natural gas reserves.

The meeting took place at the request of Governor Parnell after he publicly called on the three companies – the major lease holders for gas reserves on the North Slope – to work together on developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that focuses on exporting Alaska North Slope gas to Asia’s growing markets.

The governor invited the three CEOs to meet with him to discuss the opportunities for commercializing North Slope gas and the project’s importance to Alaskans.

We had a productive discussion about how to get alignment between the companies and grow Alaska’s economy through oil and gas development,” Governor Parnell said. “I made it clear that we want to see progress on commercializing Alaska’s gas for Alaskans and markets beyond.”

The Parnell administration is targeting LNG exports to Asia given increasing demand there.

Governor Parnell and the CEOs – Bob Dudley of BP, Jim Mulva of ConocoPhillips and Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil – met for two hours. During the meeting, the CEOs briefed the governor on the extensive work they’ve been doing in response to his request.

I appreciate the willingness of the chief executives to come to Alaska to discuss the important topic of commercializing North Slope gas,” Governor Parnell said. “For a gas project to advance, all three companies need to be aligned behind it. This meeting is an important step, but much work remains.”

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