The natural gas industry today will ask the government to permit virtually unrestricted imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Saying the only alternative is using higher priced electrity or foreign oil, the American Gas Association is urging, "a policy on LNG imports free from uncertainty, ambiguity and regulatory delay."
That means no limits on the amount of LNG imported, no restrictions on the way imported LNG is priced, and no requirements that LNG imports be confined to certain geographic areas, AGA president George lawrence said.
Lawrence also said in a press conference yesterday while outlining the industry's stand that additional federal control is not needed over LNG importing facilities, which have become as controversial as atomic power plants in some places.
Lawrence is to testify today at Department of Energy hearings on LNG policy.
LNG is natural gas that has been chilled to .250 degrees Farenheit. At that temperature the gas becomes a liquid, shrinking to 1/600 of its volume, so it can be transported in specially-built ships.
Because of the expense of liquefying the gas, shipping it (from Africa, South American or the Far East) and turning it back into a gas again, imported LNG costs two to three times as much as price-controlled U.S. gas.
One gas company in Boston is the company importing LNG, but Lawrence said LNG imports could supply 10 per cent of the country's gas needs y 1985. Natural gas provides about 30 per cent of the country's energy.
Lawrence said the average home heating bill would increase about 10 per cent if unrestricted LNG imports were allowed and the gas prices were set the way the industry desires.
He urged importers of LNG be allowed to "roll in" the cost of the LNG with other gas prices, averaging out the prices.
The Carter administration has advocated what is called "incremental pricing" in which users of imported LNG would pay the full cost of the product.
Lawrence contended that would be unfair because all other energy companies sources "roll in" their prices to keep average costs down. It's uneconomical, he said, because imported LNG costs too much for many users, so they would switch to another fuel.
The gas industry spokesman criticized federal officials for delaying approval of LNG importing facilities because of what he called "undue emotional treatment" from critics of LNG safety.