Plans to export increased volumes of liquefied natural gas from the US have been thrown into doubt because of the escalating trade dispute with China, industry executives have warned. Patrick Pouyanné, chief executive of Total, the French oil and gas group, told reporters in Washington on Monday that a trade war with China would be “very bad news” for exports of liquefied natural gas.  LNG Ltd, an Australian company that is developing a new export project in Louisiana, said its talks with potential buyers in China had been put on hold until the issue had been resolved. Greg Vesey, its chief executive, said: “We were in a meeting with a potential customer, who said they weren’t going to make a move until it has been clarified what is happening with these tariffs.”

The trade dispute has cast a shadow over companies’ plans to invest tens of billions of dollars and employ tens of thousands of workers in constructing a new wave of LNG export capacity in Texas and Louisiana. China has so far excluded LNG from the list of imports from the US that are threatened with additional tariffs, even though other fuels including oil and coal are included. But exporters of US LNG are worried that it could soon be targeted.