The United States ramped up its exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2017, quadrupling the amount of cargo shipped across the globe year-on-year.
Namely, U.S. exports of LNG reached 1.94 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, up from 0.5 Bcf/d in 2016, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows.
All of the exported LNG originated from Louisiana’s Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal and reached 25 countries.
More than half (53 pct) of exported gas was shipped to Mexico (20 Pct), South Korea (18 pct), and China (15 pct).
Exports to South Korea were part of long-term contracts between sellers Cheniere Energy and Shell and the Korean natural gas buyers—utilities KOGAS and KEPCO. Exports to China were sold mostly on a spot basis, with volumes in October, November, and December increasing as record-high LNG demand prompted China to seek additional LNG on the global spot market to supplement contracted volumes.
Almost 60 pct of the cargo 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.
Countries in Europe collectively accounted for the third-largest share of U.S. LNG exports, driven by increased demand primarily from the power generation sector. South American LNG imports declined in 2017.
Two LNG projects, Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Cove Point in Maryland, have come online since 2016, with four more projects scheduled to start operation shortly: Elba Island LNG in Georgia and Cameron LNG in Louisiana in 2018, followed by Freeport LNG and Corpus Christi LNG in Texas in 2019. This will bring the U.S. export capacity to 9.6 Bcf/d by the end of 2019.
The United States is projected to become the third-largest LNG exporter in the world by 2020, surpassing Malaysia and remaining behind only Australia and Qatar, EIA said.