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El Paso Unit Asks US Energy Department For LNG Export Authorization

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- A subsidiary of El Paso Corp. (EP) has requested U.S. Department of Energy's blessing to export liquefied natural gas from a terminal off the coast of Georgia. In a letter filed Tuesday, Southern LNG Company LLC said it sought the authorization to export up to half a billion cubic feet per day from its LNG terminal in Savannah, Ga., to any country that has a free-trade agreement with the U.S. Southern also intends to file a separate request to send LNG to countries that don't have a free-trade agreement with the U.S. The move, which follows similar requests by other owners of LNG terminals across the U.S., underscores the dramatic shift that natural gas shale production has created in the country's energy market. LNG terminals were built at great cost during the last decade when investors thought the U.S. would suffer a natural gas shortage, but the abundance of gas unleashed by hydraulic fracturing has rendered them mostly idle. The Energy Dept. has already authorized Cheniere Energy Inc. (LNG) to export LNG from its terminal in Sabine Pass, La. Its first LNG exports are expected towards the middle of this decade. Natural gas producers in the U.S. hope that LNG exports will create new markets for their commodity, which has recently seen decade-low price levels due to its abundance. -By Angel Gonzalez, Dow Jones Newswires; 713-547-9214;

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