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Firms want to export natural gas

Drilling companies have large supply

PHILADELPHIA – The natural gas industry is drowning in its own success.

Drilling companies are extracting so much natural gas from formations like Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale that they want to export the fuel overseas, provoking opposition from some who say that American gas should stay at home.

At the Shale Gas Insight conference in Philadelphia last week, Jack Williams, president of XTO Energy, promoted the idea of exporting liquefied natural gas ships.

“Just as we do with exports of grain, cars and other American products, by exporting LNG we can create economic value that would not have existed otherwise,” Williams told the audience.

XTO is a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp., the nation’s largest producer of natural gas whose price has plummeted in the past few years because the shale-gas revolution is producing more gas than U.S. markets can absorb.

Exxon Mobil in August submitted an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to export liquefied natural gas. Some American chemical producers fear that shipping LNG to foreign consumers would make gas scarce here.

American Public Gas Association, a trade group for utilities, has said that exports would produce “predictable and disastrous” results for household consumers.