HOUSTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- French energy company EDF secured a deal for liquefied natural gas drawn from reserves in the United States, Cheniere Energy announced.
Cheniere and EDF signed a sales agreement for up to 26 cargoes of LNG from its Sabine Pass export terminal through 2019.
"Volumes will be sourced from Cheniere Marketing's LNG supply portfolio, which includes rights under a sale and purchase agreement with Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC to purchase any LNG produced from Sabine Pass in excess of that required for other customers," Cheniere said in a statement.
Cheniere has designated several dozen cargoes for sale to date, with delivery expected to begin next year.
A special permit is needed to send natural gas to companies without a U.S. free trade agreement. Though France has no such agreement, Cheniere secured the necessary permits, weighed against the public's interest, from Washington in 2011.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration in a November report said the increase in U.S. natural gas production should support as much as 80 percent of the potential increase in demand resulting from the steady gains in LNG exports from the Lower 48 states.
Supporters of LNG exports say it would provide a source of economic stimulus and increase U.S. leverage overseas. In its study, EIA found the "effects on overall economic growth [from the emerging LNG market] were positive but modest."
Detractors, meanwhile, fret over the perceived environmental threats posed by the subsequent increase in hydraulic fracturing. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups sued the federal government in May over a decision to support an LNG terminal planned for southern Maryland, saying it would lead to "significant new amounts of air, water and climate-disrupting pollution."