By - Jim Vess

Natural gas exports doubled in the first half of 2019 aided by new terminals and pipelines

Energize Weekly, November 6, 2019

U.S. natural gas exports – bolstered by new terminals and pipelines – averaged 4.1 billion cubic feet a day for the first half of 2019, more than double the rate for 2018, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In 2017, the U.S. became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in almost 60 years.

New liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal capacity is a big part of the increasing exports, the EIA said. Four new terminals have been opened since 2016. Total LNG exports for the first half of 2019 were 37 percent higher than the same period in 2018.

The most recent facility – Cameron LNG in Texas with a capacity of 1.7 billion cubic feet per day – went into operation in May. Total LNG export capacity as of June was 5.4 billion cubic feet a day.

The Corpus Christi LNG Train 2 shipped its first cargo in July, and two additional terminals have come online in the second half of 2019 – the first train at Freeport LNG in Texas and the first 10 trains at Elba Island in Georgia. A series of so-called compressor trains are used to turn natural gas into a liquid.

By the end of 2020, U.S. LNG export capacity is projected to reach 8.9 billion cubic feet a day, up from 4.9 billion cubic feet a day at the end of 2018.

While LNG exports are growing quickly, the bulk of U.S. natural gas exports is carried by pipelines to Canada and Mexico. In the first half of 2019, net pipeline exports to Canada were flat. Mexican exports were up 5 percent.

“In every month from April through August, U.S. natural gas exports by pipeline have exceeded natural gas imports by pipeline, the longest consecutive stretch of exporting more natural gas by pipeline than importing by pipeline on record,” the EIA said.

Pipeline deliveries to Mexico grew with the addition of the Texas-Tuxpan pipeline from Texas’ Permian Basin to key Mexican markets. Exports reached an all-time high of 5.3 billion cubic feet a day in July.

Pipeline capacity to Canada also grew toward the end of 2018 with the second phase of the Rover pipeline and the Nexus pipeline carrying natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale basins to a transfer point northeast of Detroit.

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