The U.S. is now the Largest Exporter of LNG in the World
The United States was the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the first half of 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). As LNG export volume rises, so does domestic capacity to export even more.
American exports of LNG have been continually on the rise since 2016. Exports dropped dramatically throughout the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but quickly recovered to pre-pandemic levels and continued to rise. According to the EIA, American LNG exports grew by 12 percent in the first two quarters of 2022 compared to the third and fourth quarters of 2021. On average, the U.S. is exporting 11.2 billion cubic feet (Bcf/d) daily, with room to grow even more.
The United States’ LNG exporting capacity has also risen since the last half of 2021. Since November, export capacity has grown by 1.9 Bcf/d. Such capacity growth comes from expanded exporting infrastructure, including the construction of new trains used for transporting LNG, and increased production capabilities at several natural gas processing plants.
Such growth was to be expected as geopolitical realities have wreaked havoc on the global natural gas supply chain. Most obviously, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has greatly affected Europe’s natural gas market. With Russia limiting or completely shutting off natural gas exports to much of Europe, and European natural gas storage already low, many countries turned the U.S. to supply their unmet demand. The Task Force for Energy Security, a partnership between the U.S. and European Commission (EC) to increase LNG exports into Europe in response to the lack of Russian gas, has also driven U.S. exports.
Europe is, in fact, where the majority of American LNG has gone. While imports of LNG into the EU and UK have risen in the first half of this year, the EIA reports that 64 percent of all U.S. LNG exports were destined for Europe and the United Kingdom in the first five months of 2022. U.S. LNG supplied 43 percent of Europe and UK gas demand in the same time frame, greatly outpacing imports from other LNG-exporting countries. Qatar was the second-largest supplier of LNG into the EU and UK, comprising just 15 percent of their total imports.
It is likely that this trend will continue for at least as long as the conflict in the Ukraine persists and Russia curtails its own gas exports into Europe. U.S. producers, led by EQT, have been publicizing their case for making it easier to export more LNG to Europe and other countries by streamlining regulations as a way to reduce global emissions by greatly reducing coal use with cleaner-burning natural gas, as well as helping with energy security concerns.