The U.S. is the top exporter of liquid natural gas

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The United States was the world leader in liquified natural gas exports during the first half of 2022, which includes new U.S. export facilities that saw record shipments, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis wrote about what the EIA said in a July 25 report:

The EIA estimated that U.S. natural gas liquefaction capacity averaged 11.4 Bcf/d as of July, with a peak capacity of 13.9 Bcf/d across the seven major LNG export facilities: Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass in Louisiana, the Berkshire Hathaway Inc.-operated Cove Point in Maryland, Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Liquefaction in Texas, Sempra’s Cameron LNG in Louisiana, Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Elba Liquefaction in Georgia, Freeport LNG Development LP’s plant in Texas, and Venture Global LNG’s Calcasieu Pass in Louisiana, the agency said.

The capacity estimates were in line with predictions that the EIA made in December 2021. At the time, the agency said U.S. LNG exports at full capacity would surpass world leaders Australia and Qatar, which export 11.4 Bcf/d and 10.3 Bcf/d, respectively. At the time, the global demand for LNG was strong.

Most of the first-half 2022 shipments from the U.S. went to Europe, where demand for LNG has surged because of security of supply concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. The Ukraine crisis exacerbated market dynamics that had seen gas supplies tightening since mid-2021. The European benchmark gas price is several times more than it was a year ago.

The EIA report stated, in part,

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Since the United States began exporting more natural gas than it imports on an annual basis in 2017, natural gas exports both by pipeline and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) have grown significantly. In our Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), we forecast that LNG exports will continue to lead the growth in U.S. natural gas exports and average 12.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2022. The United States could surpass Australia and Qatar to become the top exporter of LNG this year, if it is realized.

We expect annual U.S. LNG exports to increase by 2.4 Bcf/d in 2022 and 0.5 Bcf/d in 2023. We forecast that natural gas exports by pipeline to Mexico and Canada will increase slightly, by 0.3 Bcf/d in 2022 and by 0.4 Bcf/d in 2023, primarily as a result of more exports to Mexico. The United States currently ranks second in the world in natural gas exports, behind Russia.

U.S. LNG exports exceeded pipeline exports of natural gas for the first time on an annual basis in 2021. Monthly LNG exports continued to set new records in 2021 and averaged 11.3 Bcf/d this winter, 2.2 Bcf/d more than last winter. In March 2022, U.S. LNG exports reached a new high of 11.9 Bcf/d. U.S. LNG export capacity increased in 2021 with the addition of Sabine Pass Train 6 and capacity expansions at Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi LNG export terminals.

Seatrade Maritime News reported on experts reaction to the news:

The growth in US at the present time was among many issues covered in a very thorough webinar presentation on LNG markets by Poten & Partners, which is active as a broker in the sector, but also offers extensive analytics on supply, demand and overall LNG market dynamics,” Poten analyst Kristen Holmquist, explaining Poten’s longer term outlook (going out 10 years) said that major growth areas will be in Europe, Northeast Asia- especially China, and Southeast Asia.

Over the next decade Poten sees the largest portion of supply growth coming from the US and Qatar with the two countries forecast to account for around 100 mta of 200 mta in supply growth between 2022 and 2032. Of this supply from the US would increase by around 60 mta and Qatar by around 42 mta tonnes year by 2032 with the US expected to overtake Qatar as the world’s largest supplier of LNG.

“I think there could be some flexibility in that some US projects don’t get approved and more comes on in Qatar, but overall that’s about 100m tonnes of the 200m tonnes of increase in supply,” Holmquist said.

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