Trump Wants to Sell US Natural Gas to S**thole Countries
But They’re Probably Not the Most Promising Export Markets
President Donald Trump may have denigrated Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations by using a term now ubiquitous on cable news, and may discourage immigration to the United States from those countries, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to export natural gas to them.
Trump has articulated the goal for the US to become an “energy dominant” country by selling natural gas to developing countries, including those in Africa.
So far the program hasn’t met with much success, as far as exports to Africa are concerned. Natural gas producers have received numerous approvals for the construction of natural gas terminals to ship their product to overseas markets during the Obama administration and now into the Trump era. Early 2016 saw the first export shipments of US natural gas out of Louisiana. But since then, only 1.3 percent of the liquefied natural gas exported by the US went to Africa, and that to all only one country, Egypt.
The Trump administration have been promoting US gas exports all over the continent, from Morocco to South Africa. Will Trump’s obvious disdain for African countries and their people make a difference?
As noted, Africa isn’t a big buyer of US gas to begin with; US exports have nowhere to go but up, but some say the president’s words will hurt the effort.
“Comments like those made by Trump last week undercut the soft power of the US and tarnish the country’s reputation—and the reputation of Trump himself,” David Victor, professor of international relations at the University of California at San Diego, told the Washington Post. “They probably create some domestic politics problems for countries that want to buy LNG from US suppliers.”
More importantly, experts say that few African countries can sustain significant natural gas imports, and exporters are more interested in other potential markets, such as China and India. If and when African countries do want and need to import gas, the continent has reserves of its own, in places like Algeria and Mozambique. There have been recent discoveries of natural gas in Tanzania.
In other words, when all is said and done, the need for African countries to import liquefied natural gas from the US is pretty remote.
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