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Will Obama, Japan prime minister discuss LNG shipments?

By Bob Downing Published: February 20, 2013

From the Center for Liquified Natural Gas:

**NOTE: The LNG export issue was brought up during an April meeting between Obama and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, although not in great detail. With an administration decision on LNG exports potentially just weeks away, Obama and [current Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe could delve into the topic more deeply when they meet, industry observers said. "I'd be surprised if it was not discussed," said Bill Cooper, president of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LNG-watchers expect Obama, Japan PM to discuss potential exports this week

By Brian Scheid

19 February 2013

 

The looming decision on expanding US liquefied natural gas exports will likely be on the agenda during this week's meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama, industry observers said Tuesday.

 

"It's just something that I know is pretty high on the list of priorities for the government of Japan," said James Fatheree, a senior director with the US Chamber of Commerce. "I would think that it merits some mention at least."

 

The LNG export issue was brought up during an April meeting between Obama and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, although not in great detail. With an administration decision on LNG exports potentially just weeks away, Obama and Abe could delve into the topic more deeply when they meet, industry observers said.

 

"I'd be surprised if it was not discussed," said Bill Cooper, president of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas.

 

The White House announced last week that Obama would meet with Prime Minister Abe on Friday to discuss "a range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including the US-Japan Security Alliance, economic and trade issues, and deepening bilateral cooperation."

 

Natalie Wozniak, a National Security Council spokeswoman, declined to comment further. Maki Yamamoto, a spokeswoman for the Japanese embassy, also declined to comment on Abe's visit.

 

Fatheree said there would likely be a reaffirmation of US support for Japan in Asian security issues, a discussion of Abe's economic policies to jump-start his country's stagnant economy and a conversation on the potential for Japan to formally join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a proposed free trade agreement under negotiation by Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

 

Fatheree said Abe would likely express to Obama that Japan would like to see the US approve export licenses to send LNG to Japan.

 

The Energy Department has yet to decide whether it will approve LNG exports to countries like Japan that do not have a formal free-trade agreement with the US.

 

Under current law, DOE is expected to quickly approve applications to export LNG to countries that have FTAs with the US. But in cases involving non-FTA countries, DOE must determine whether those exports are in the US' "public interest."

 

During his visit this week, Abe is also scheduled to have dinner with Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to Robert Dillon, a Murkowski spokesman.

 

"She is sure to raise the issue of LNG exports," he said.

 

During a trip to Japan last month, Murkowski said she was pressed for assurances from Japanese officials, including Taro Aso, Japan's deputy prime minister, that the US would soon begin exporting LNG to Japan.

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Read more about the benefits of natural gas exports at CLNG’s new LNG initiative website: http://lnginitiative.org/

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