Cove Point may soon be exporting gas; big boost to area economy

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Dominion Resources Inc. won U.S. Energy Department approval to export liquefied natural gas from an existing import terminal in Maryland, the fourth such project authorized by the agency amid a natural-gas glut.

The project to modify the terminal, which may cost as much as $3.8 billion, was approved pending environmental reviews, according to a statement today. Richmond, Virginia-based Dominion closed at $58.62, up less than 1 percent in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Dominion still requires approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to start construction at the facility at Cove Point, on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, Dan Donovan, a spokesman for the company, said today in an interview.

“We have financing and we’re fully subscribed by customers for capacity,” Donovan said. Final regulatory approval could come in the first quarter next year, he said.

Advances in natural-gas drilling techniques, including hydraulic fracturing, have led to increased U.S. production, prompting companies to seek export authority to markets including Japan and India. The Energy Department must approve before natural gas can be exported to nations that lack a free-trade agreement with the U.S.

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