Monday, December 19, 2005

Brrr!

Bidding war chills U.S. plan to import natural gas


Even with natural-gas prices surging to new heights and heating bills soaring across the U.S., much of the nation's import capacity remains idle.

The nation has four onshore terminals for receiving and processing imported gas, and they are importing only about half the volume they can handle. The reason: U.S. buyers are being aggressively outbid by Europeans and Asians for the limited number of cargoes available.

The supply crunch means imports won't cool the U.S. market and natural-gas prices could stay high -- and sensitive to weather changes -- for years to come, even as the U.S. builds more terminals to handle overseas gas.

"There will be continued competition for supply, certainly through the end of the decade," says Martin Houston, president of North American operations for BG Group PLC, the largest importer of liquefied natural gas into the U.S.



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