ACC retracts web statement supporting US exports of natural gas

24 January 2013 22:37  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has removed the statement on its website that said it supports US exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), a spokesman confirmed on Thursday.

“The statement accurately reflects executive committee policy dating to February 2012,” the ACC said in a statement provided by spokesman Warren Robinson. “However, the issue and its implications for some of our members have evolved. We therefore plan to further discuss this issue to assure all members' views are fully represented and the implications understood.”

The retraction was made a week after organisation CEO Cal Dooley said the ACC does not oppose natural gas exports.

Last week, Dow Chemical said it was withdrawing its membership from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and was reconsidering its membership with the ACC because of the two organisations’ support of natural gas exports.

Dow lauded the ACC on Thursday for its recent action.

“We have had constructive dialogue with the ACC and are pleased they have removed the objectionable statement from their website and have agreed to further board level dialogue regarding the overall natural gas issue,” said Dow spokeswoman Kelly Chandler. “We value our relationship with the ACC and remain open-minded as this dialogue proceeds regarding Dow’s continued participation in ACC.”

Exporting natural gas has been a hot topic of debate in the chemical sector, a business that relies on natural gas for about 85% of its feedstock requirements.

In December, the US Department of Energy (DOE) released a report that analyses the effects that LNG exports could have on the US.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris spoke out against the reports, saying it failed to consider the importance of manufacturing to the US economy.

Since then, a coalition has been formed to campaign for the restriction of natural gas exports. Huntsman announced on Tuesday that it joined America’s Energy Advantage (AEA), whose members already included Dow, Celanese and Eastman, among others.

However, ExxonMobil said it continues to support US exports of natural gas, and a recent blog entry criticised the coalition, pointing out “economic benefits realised by those nations that embrace free trade”.

ExxonMobil spokesman Ken Cohen wrote, “Unfortunately for AEA – but fortunately for US consumers — expert after expert has shown that the economic benefits to the country from LNG exports are significant and outweigh any potential domestic natural gas price increases.”

The company said exporting natural gas could mean more demand, more investment and more production. This, in turn, would create more jobs, government revenues and economic expansion.

Additional reporting by Joseph Chang and Stefan Baumgarten

By: Tracy Dang
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