LNG growth to be met by other countries if U.S. walks away -Baker Hughes CEO

(Reuters) - If the U.S. pulls back from permitting new LNG export plants, demand for the fuel will still be met from projects in Qatar, Argentina and Africa, said the CEO of Baker Hughes, Lorenzo Simonelli. Baker Hughes is the world's largest provider of equipment for the LNG sector.

The Biden administration in January paused new export permits for LNG projects to study the impact of further expansion, a move that has drawn criticism from LNG companies and their advocates.

"We believe by 2030 there needs to be an installed base capacity of LNG of 800 million tons per annum and either through U.S. projects or international projects," Baker Hughes CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said in an interview on the sidelines of CERAWeek conference in Houston.

Qatar, one of the top LNG exporters, has announced plans to significantly expand its production, underpinned by the additional resources in its North Field.

"If you look at projects in Africa, you have the Rovuma project. In Argentina, we know they have plenty of gas. There are plenty of opportunities internationally as well as floating LNG," Simonelli told Reuters.

Africa is at the forefront of a global wave of new floating LNG facilities, including Mozambique which shipped its first LNG cargo from its offshore Rovuma basin to Europe in 2022.

Argentina's Vaca Muerta, a formation that rivals the U.S. Permian basin, holds the world's second-largest shale gas reserves and could become a key global supplier of gas if the country speeds up projects planned for exporting LNG.

So far, the U.S. permitting pause has not led to the cancellation of any equipment orders from U.S. companies and has had no impact on Baker Hughes' business, said Simonelli.

The growth in artificial intelligence has had a material impact on power demand and one that is being considered in Baker Hughes forecasts for supplying equipment, said Simonelli.

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