Qatar Expanding Natural Gas Export Capacity After Biden Admin Paused New Hub Approvals

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Qatar is building additional liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity after the Biden administration decided to pause approvals for new export hubs in the U.S., Financial Times reported Sunday.

Officials announced additional long-term increases in natural gas production on Sunday, supplementing existing plans for growth and putting the country’s capacity on track to rise by 85% by the decade’s end, according to Financial Times. Qatar is betting that natural gas demand will remain robust, especially as Asian economies increasingly seek to shift away from relying on coal.

The increases in capacity will “take Qatar’s gas industry to new horizons,” Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister and the CEO of QatarEnergy, said of the plans, according to Financial Times. “These are very important results of great dimensions.” (RELATED: ‘Self-Inflicted Wound’: Is Biden About To Hand Trump Campaign A Major Political Gift?)

Qatar recently discovered massive new gas deposits that increase its overall reserves by 14%, according to Financial Times. Qatari companies have inked two major long-term deals to supply natural gas to China in the last year-and-a-half, and oil and gas giant Shell published a report earlier in February forecasting a 50% increase in global LNG demand by 2040.

Would-be buyers of LNG in Asia, including Japan and China, have been searching for alternative suppliers to protect themselves against disruptions to their plans caused by the U.S. moratorium on new export hubs, according to Bloomberg News. The president of Eurogas, an oil and gas trade association representing 101 European companies, wrote a letter before the decision was made 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.”

The Biden administration paused approvals for new 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. 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.

Elected Republicans and the American natural gas industry sharply criticized the decision on similar grounds, while climate activists heralded the move as a major victory. White House officials reportedly met with several activists, including a 25-year old TikTok influencer and members of Climate Defiance, ahead of the decision.

Some activists who lobbied against new LNG export terminal projects in the U.S. received funding and support from philanthropic organizations bankrolled by billionaires like Michael Bloomberg and the Rockefeller family. Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk also cited misleading and questionable science in written congressional testimony to defend the administration’s policy.

Neither the White House nor the DOE responded immediately to requests for comment.

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