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EIA: US LNG exports quadrupled

Published by , Senior Editor
Tanks and Terminals,

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest ‘Today in Energy’ report suggests that US exports of LNG reached 1.94 billion ft3/d in 2017, up from 0.5 billion ft3/d in 2016.

All of the LNG exports originated from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal in Louisiana.

The LNG was shipped to 25 countries in total, with 53% delivered to three countries: Mexico, South Korea and China. Mexico received the largest amount of US LNG exports (20%) of the 2017 total.

In Asia, the widening difference between the Henry Hub natural gas price and crude oil helped to drive increases in LNG imports from the US. Exports to South Korea accounted for 18% of total US LNG exports in 2017. Exports to China made up 15% of total US LNG exports. These exports were sold mostly on a spot basis.

Almost 60% of US LNG in 2017 was sold on a spot basis to more than 20 countries in Asia, North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and the Caribbean. Although liquefaction capacity at Sabine Pass is fully contracted under long-term contracts to various buyers, flexibility in those contracts’ destination clauses allows US LNG to be shipped to any market in the world.

After countries in Asia and North America (Mexico), countries in Europe collectively accounted for the third-largest share of US LNG exports. LNG imports by several European countries increased in 2017, driven by increased demand primarily from the power generation sector. South American LNG imports declined in 2017.

The increase in LNG exports over the past two years is the result of the continuing expansion of US LNG export capacity. Two LNG projects (Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Cove Point in Maryland) have come online since 2016, increasing US LNG export capacity to 3.6 billion ft3/d.

A further four projects are scheduled to come online in the next two years: Elba Island LNG in Georgia and Cameron LNG in Louisiana in 2018, followed by Freeport LNG and Corpus Christi LNG in Texas in 2019. Once completed, US LNG export capacity is expected to reach 9.6 billion ft3/d by the end of 2019. As export capacity continues to increase, the US is projected to become the third-largest LNG exporter in the world by 2020, behind Australia and Qatar.

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