The Secretary of Commerce and Texas Governor celebrated Cheniere Energy's Corpus Christi LNG plant and over $15 billion investment. Rachel Denny Clow, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Since May, there have been reports that six oil tankers and one U.S. drone have been subject to attacks in or near the Strait of Hormuz. About 20% of global tanker-borne crude oil and other petroleum products are transported through the Strait of Hormuz. These attacks demonstrate the vulnerability of access to energy supplies. In an interview with the New York Times, Paolo d’Amico, chairman of International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, observed, “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”
Our side of the world, however, presents a striking contrast for the supply of world energy.
The United States is using more energy than ever before. Fortunately, the U.S. is also producing and exporting resources at an all-time high, and energy imports are at near-record lows. In fact, U.S. monthly crude oil imports from OPEC sources have reached a 30-year low – effectively reducing our reliance on unpredictable foreign energy sources.
Cheniere Energy, Inc. will hold an opening celebration for the Corpus Christi Liquefaction facility with national, state and local leaders, and commercial partners in recognition of the startup of the first greenfield liquefaction plant built in the lower 48 states on Thursday, November, 15, 2018 in Gregory, TX. Construction is ongoing, as seen during the drive through the plant. (Photo: Rachel Denny Clow/Caller-Times)
In order for the United States to sustain the growing production of its own energy resources – as well as the ongoing reduction in reliance on foreign oil – it must continue to support new investments in modern midstream pipeline infrastructure. Pipeline infrastructure helps move products both to consumers at home and to terminals to export to American allies abroad. And they are the safest, most environmentally conscious method of transporting energy products. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), it would take a constant line of tanker trucks, about 750 per day, loading up and moving out every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline.
Increasingly, these projects are supporting a growing number of American Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals. Development of energy infrastructure and export terminal projects are key to economic growth while enhancing our energy capabilities. In fact, the United States has been a net exporter of natural gas for more than a year now, totaling 4.6 billion cubic feet per day.
Moreover, the construction and expansion projects of LNG facilities will create jobs and significant economic benefits here at home. In Corpus Christi, Cheniere’s multibillion-dollar Corpus Christi Liquefaction export facility began operating late last year. The project will support more than 430 permanent jobs. The terminal continues to expand with the first cargo of LNG from its second train shipped earlier this month. The terminal is projected to have a $5 billion economic impact in the Coastal Bend and $17 billion for the state during its construction.
More: Cheniere Energy, Bechtel wrap 2nd LNG train at South Texas LNG facility
More: First shipment of Cheniere LNG sails out of the Port of Corpus Christi
Other parts of Texas are benefiting from the LNG boom, too. For example, the Freeport LNG Terminal expansion project will generate up to 3,000 high-skilled jobs and will be crucial to accommodating increased LNG production and export. Investments such as Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Terminal and the Freeport LNG Terminal will allow the U.S. to not only support our own energy needs, but also our allies around the world.
In order to realize the full benefits of this opportunity, our leaders must expand beyond the status quo. The United States must take decisive action to minimize the limitations that exist within our own energy network. We have too many positives with the opportunities presented by our abundance of resources and expertise. By investing in new pipeline infrastructure and a growing number of LNG export projects, America is positioned to make the most of its growing energy production and reduced reliance on foreign oil.
As we examine our strategy and ability to lead the world in energy development, we must have the support of local and national leaders. It is clear that our infrastructure must be a priority moving forward, and while we are making strides toward that goal by reducing dependence on foreign imports, there are still significant investments needed to secure our country’s role as a world leader in energy production. We should act now. It’s not an emergency now, but it sure could be.
James “Spider” Marks is a retired U.S. Army major general and strategic advisor to the GAIN Coalition (Grow America's Infrastructure Now).