A top aide to President Joe Biden called into question whether the world needs more American energy during a Thursday interview with Bloomberg Radio.

Amos Hochstein, Biden’s senior adviser for energy and investment, questioned whether the rest of the world really will continue to be in need of more American natural gas during the interview on Bloomberg Radio’s “Balance of Power” program. His remarks came in response to a question about the Biden administration’s decision to pause approvals for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals in January, with the White House instructing the Department of Energy (DOE) to widen the scope of its approval review process to consider climate implications alongside economic outcomes and energy security ramifications.

“I want to ask you about the president’s pause on LNG export approvals. I don’t know if this is an issue [Biden] plans to address tonight, I suspect this might come up. But, I wonder if it’s possible that this turns into a possible moratorium?” asked Joe Mathieu, one of the interviewers for Bloomberg Radio.

“Do we even need more facilities is a good question to ask,” Hochstein responded. “I don’t know the answer to that. There have been different projections of what demand is going to be. So, I think [Biden’s] focus is going to continue to be — tonight, tomorrow and for the next five years — on accelerating the energy transition … we have the energy mix and the energy security, for us and our allies.”

Several indicators suggest that strong global demand for LNG will endure for the foreseeable future. For example, Shell — one of the world’s largest energy companies — projects that global natural gas demand will grow by more than 50% by 2040, according to a report the company published in February.

Europe — which has heavily leaned on American LNG imports since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war to avert energy problems or an erosion of political support for the Ukrainian cause — has a growing gap between its contracted long-term supply of LNG and its long-term LNG needs, according to market analysis by Rystad Energy.

The head of Eurogas, an oil and gas trade group comprised of 101 European firms, wrote a letter ahead of the decision to warn that a pause on new export approvals “would risk increasing and prolonging the global supply imbalance” and “inevitably prolong the period of price volatility in Europe and could lead to price increases with the consequent implications that would have for economic turmoil and social impact.”

Elsewhere, would-be buyers of LNG in Asia, including Japan and China, have been looking for alternative suppliers to protect themselves against changes to their plans caused by the U.S. moratorium on new export hubs, according to Bloomberg News.

Qatari officials announced additional long-term increases in natural gas production in late February, supplementing existing plans for growth and putting the country’s capacity on track to rise by 85% by the decade’s end. Qatar is betting that natural gas demand will remain strong, especially as Asian economies seek to shift away from coal.

Notably, Qatar has signed two major long-term agreements with China to supply natural gas in the past 18 months. Energy sector experts previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the move would not reduce emissions, but would actually increase them by empowering foreign natural gas production in places including Qatar and Russia.

Nick Popeon March 7, 2024

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