US congressmen favour export of natural gas to India

PTI Washington | Updated on April 27, 2013

Top American lawmakers have strongly favoured export of US natural gas to India, in the absence of which, they said, the energy starved nation might be forced to join the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

During a Congressional hearing on export of US natural gas, the lawmakers argued that it is in the national security interest of the US to export the excess natural gas to its allies like India and Japan and also to its European allies to reduce their dependence on Russian gas.

“Without US natural gas, the Indians might have to participate in the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. We have given the Indians a reasonable alternative. We should use it,” Congressman Ted Poe said.

Chairing a Congressional hearing on ‘Natural gas exports: Economic and geopolitical opportunities’, Poe said: “Liberalising our natural gas export policy will provide certainty to allies and economic partners around the world that the United States is an advocate of free trade.”

National security interests

Congressman Brad Sherman said that it was in national security interests of the US to provide secure natural gas supplies to its allies and to prevent India from turning to Iran for a natural gas pipeline.

Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao, in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal this month, had said that export of US natural gas to India “would provide a steady, reliable supply of clean energy that would help reduce India’s crude oil imports from the Middle East and provide reliable energy to India’’.

Natural gas exports

Poe said cheap US natural gas exports would reduce the Russian stranglehold on European market and give the US more political clout at the expense of Russia.

“In the Pacific, allies like Japan and Korea pay very high prices for natural gas. They would be immediate importers of cheaper US natural gas if we were allowed to sell it to them,” he said.

The US Department of Energy is in the final stages of taking a policy decision on export of natural gas to countries like India and Japan. Under the existing laws, US can export natural gas to only those countries with which it has a free trade agreement.

Published on April 27, 2013

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