Dominion Energy opened the first natural gas export terminal on the East Coast the day after President Trump touted energy exports as a national priority in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
Dominion announced Wednesday that its Cove Point liquefied natural gas export terminal in Lusby, Md., was beginning production, with Shell providing the natural gas for export into the global market.
“Today marks an important day, not just for Cove Point, but for the U.S. LNG industry," said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the trade group Center for LNG. "Cove Point’s production of LNG represents a fast-emerging industry providing thousands of jobs at home and environmental and geopolitical benefits abroad."
Trump played up the fact that the U.S. has become a net exporter of natural gas in his Tuesday night address to Congress.
The administration also held a meeting with the Mideast nation of Qatar Tuesday about the energy giant's plans to invest in an LNG facility in Texas. The U.S.'s recent status as both a leading oil and natural gas producer as a result of the shale energy boom is attracting investment and making the country a global player across energy markets.
The $4 billion Cove Point facility is one of the largest construction projects in Maryland, providing more than 10,000 jobs, with $565 million in payroll, the trade group said.
"As more LNG exports come online, those benefits will increase exponentially, in terms of job creation, investment and supply contracts across the whole natural gas supply chain,” Riedl said.
Dominion, which is a large utility based in Virginia that serves the Washington area, confirmed that "construction is complete," and natural gas for processing into liquefied form for export has been brought to the facility.
The LNG the facility will produce is destined for Japanese and Indian customers who have signed 20-year contracts to take the fuel.
LNG is produced by chilling natural gas and converting it from its gaseous state into a liquid, where its piped into LNG tankers and shipped via large tanker vessels specially designed to hold it.