U.S. Nears 3rd-largest LNG Exporter

Set to Overtake Malaysia in 2019

With liquefied natural gas infrastructure growing rapidly across the U.S., the country is reportedly on track to overtake Malaysia as the world’s largest LNG exporter.

The U.S. has seen a rapid boom in LNG exports over the last three years as cheap shale gas has met rising global demand for the commodity. Mega-projects on the U.S. Gulf have become a mainstay of breakbulk demand in the region and expected to grow further as exports ramp up.

"There is now 41.25 million-tonnes-per-annum of nameplate capacity in operation in the U.S., from the first five trains of Sabine Pass, the first train at Corpus Christi and the single-train plant in Cove Point. This number excludes the first 4.5 million-tonnes-per-annum of Cameron LNG, which is still considered to be commissioning," said Ruth Liao, editor LNG Americas for ICIS.

2019 Exports Leap Ahead

Year-to-date figures already put the U.S. well on the way to becoming the third-largest exported, having leap-frogged Malaysia’s output in the period from January 2019 onward.

This growth is in part due to new trains coming online and strengthening of throughout at its existing sites. Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG in Louisiana, Corpus Christi LNG in Texas, and Dominion Energy’s Cove Point in Maryland have all supported growth while this month the first liquefaction train of the US$10 billion Cameron LNG export terminal in Louisiana started producing LNG.

This marks the fourth LNG export plant to startup in the Lower 48 states of the U.S. and the third liquefaction plant in the U.S. Gulf. In total, the country was just edged out of third place in the last 12-month period, producing 25.3 million-tonnes-per-annum, according to LNG Edge, and placing it behind Qatar, Australia and Malaysia.

Capacity to Double

U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 7.4 billion cubic feet per day by the end of 2019 and 10 billion cubic feet per day in 2020, almost doubling from around 5.2 billion cubic feet per day today, according to news agency Reuters.

The number of domestic liquefaction facilities in operation is set to double from three to six by the end of the third quarter of this year, as the Freeport LNG, Sempra Energy Cameron LNG in Louisiana and Kinder Morgan Elba Liquefaction in Georgia all come online.

“U.S. LNG is expected to more than double in the next few years, considering all the sanctioned projects due to come online between now and 2025. These include the first three trains of Cameron LNG, trains 2 and 3 at Corpus Christi, the 10 mid-scale trains at the 2.5 mtpa Elba LNG project and the first three trains at Golden Pass, with an aggregate of 54.5 million-tonnes-per-annum to be added,” Liao said.