The Department of Energy has issued a final rule that, effective Aug. 24, will revise its regulations to expedite the application and approval process for small-scale exports of natural gas. DOE states that such exports are primarily bound for the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, where many countries do not generate sufficient demand to justify large volumes of imports from large-scale terminals via conventional tankers.

Under this rule, DOE will issue an export authorization upon receipt of any complete application to export natural gas, including liquefied natural gas, to countries with which the U.S. has not entered into a free trade agreement requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas and with which trade is not prohibited by U.S. law or policy, provided that the following two criteria are met.

- the application proposes to export natural gas in a volume up to and including 51.75 billion cubic feet per year (equivalent to 0.14 bcf/day)

- DOE’s approval of the application does not require an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969

Such applications will be deemed to be requesting authorization for small-scale natural gas exports and thus consistent with the public interest under the Natural Gas Act. As a result, DOE will issue an export authorization on an expedited basis without providing notice of application and other procedures typically required for non-FTA export applications.

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