In the first half of 2023, the United States became the top exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), says a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). They credit the Freeport LNG facility’s reopening and upcoming LNG projects on the U.S. Gulf Coast for this growth.
The report, using data from CEDIGAZ, shows U.S. LNG exports increased by 4% compared to the same period in 2022, averaging 11.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). In April, U.S. LNG exports reached a monthly record of 12.4 Bcf/d as Freeport LNG increased production.
Freeport LNG, the second-largest U.S. LNG terminal, was offline after an explosion in June 2022. It resumed operations in February 2023, with plans to add a fourth train, enabling an additional 5+ million metric tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG exports.
While the U.S. traditionally competed with Qatar as the top exporter, Australia claimed the second position in 2023, with the U.S. leading in LNG exports, followed by Australia and Qatar.
The EIA attributes strong demand from Europe as the primary market for U.S. gas exports, with EU countries and the UK accounting for 67% of total U.S. exports.
European countries are developing import capabilities to offset the loss of Russian gas. Germany, Finland, Italy, Spain, and Greece have been enhancing their import facilities, and operations are expanding in Egypt and other African countries.
Europe and the UK imported more LNG than pipeline gas in the first half of 2023, driven by high demand. This surge in LNG exports has led to a significant increase in orders for gas carrier vessels, particularly in South Korea and China.
There are rumors of major ship orders from South Korea tied to Qatar’s expansion plans. Qatar’s North Field project is set to increase capacity by 43% to 110 mtpa by 2025, with a further increase to 126 mtpa by 2027 in the North Field South Project.