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WGC 2018: US puts LNG at heart of energy plans

The emergence of the US as a global LNG exporter fits Trump's plans to boost - rather than diminish - the future role of fossil fuels in the country

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Tuesday that rapid growth in the country's natural gas industry underlines why the Trump administration continues to see fossil fuels as a crucial part of the long-term US energy mix.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the World Gas Conference in Washington, Perry said the shale boom that's led the US towards the cusp of energy independence over the past decade has been an "energy miracle".

Thirty years ago people would be "dumbfounded" if told the country would be on a path to becoming the world's largest oil and gas producer in 2018, he said, crediting innovation and taking aim at critics of the Trump administration's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy.

"In some quarters there is stubborn opposition to natural gas and other fuels - even as fossil fuels become cleaner. The latest estimates show that by 2040 fossil fuels will comprise 75% of energy usage - the answer is not to exclude, but include."

Perry pointed to progress in the liquefied natural gas sector as an example of how innovation can foster environmental progress. Last year, the US became a net gas exporter for the first time in 60 years, has just set a record of 81.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas production, and is now exporting to 30 countries, he pointed out.

Further, a number of US-based LNG projects are expected to come on stream over the next two years, creating 68 million tonnes per year of new export capacity.

Other speakers said the country's evolution into a leading LNG exporter could have wider geopolitical, economic, and environmental implications.

Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of research firm IHS Markit and author, said the arrival of the US in the global LNG market was "depoliticising" energy trading in Europe.

"The US and Australia are stable countries in terms of rule of law", so their dominance in the global LNG market could reduce volatility, said Chevron CEO Michael Wirth.

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