U.S. set to become the world’s largest LNG exporter with Asia and Europe as its biggest customers
Energize Weekly, December 15, 2021
The U.S. is poised to become the world’s largest liquified natural gas (LNG) exporter in 2022 with the addition of two new liquefaction units coming online along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Australia and Qatar have been the top two LNG exporters with the U.S. third, but according to Kepler LNG Service, the U.S. recently edged ahead of Qatar.
The EIA is projecting that U.S. exports will rise to 14 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2022 from about 2 Bcf/d in 2017.
The main destination for American LNG is Asia followed by Europe. In September, East Asia and the Pacific accounted for 39 percent of U.S. exports, 3,400 Bcf. Europe and Central Asia received about 30 percent of U.S. exports, 2,700 Bcf, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
About a fifth of U.S. LNG exports, 1,800 Bcf, went to Latin America and the Caribbean.
The top five country destinations for U.S. LNG were China (48.6 Bcf), Brazil (38.3 Bcf), South Korea (31.4 Bcf), Spain (31.3 Bcf) and Turkey (24.2 Bcf).
The new export capacity additions, known as trains, expected to all be online by the end of 2022, are:
- Train 6 at the Sabine Pass LNG export terminal adding up to 0.76 billion Bcf/d of capacity. Train 6 began producing LNG in November of 2021.
- Calcasieu Pass LNG facility, which will add 18 new liquefaction trains with 1.6 Bcf/d of capacity. All the trains are expected to operational by then end of 2022.
The EIA estimated that as of November 2021, existing U.S. LNG nominal baseload liquefaction capacity was 9.5 Bcf/d and peak capacity was 11.6 Bcf/d. The baseload reflects operations under normal conditions, and the peak is the production under optimal conditions.
There are currently six domestic export terminals, four on the Gulf Coast (two in Texas and two in Louisiana), one in Maryland and one in Georgia.
When all the trains are operating at Sabine Pass and Calcasieu Pass, the EIA projects that the U.S. will have the world’s largest LNG export capacity at 11.86 Bcf/d, surpassing Australia’s 11.4 Bcf/d and Qatar’s 10.3 Bcf/d.
By 2024, when Golden Pass LNG —the eighth U.S. LNG export facility—completes construction and begins operations, domestic peak export capacity will further increase to an estimated 16.3 Bcf/d, the EIA said.
In October 2021, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also approved requests to increase authorized LNG production at the Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi LNG terminals by a combined 0.7 Bcf/d. The terminals will be able to achieve these increases by optimizing operations and with some plant modifications.