US LNG exports become zero

Liquefied natural gas exports by the United States have declined to nearly zero. The U.S. has been a net LNG importer, while the nation is re-exporting exceeded LNG cargoes. But the change in the LNG trade structure has become remarkably.

LNG imports had increased in the U.S. in line with the rising natural gas consumption during the first half of 2000s. However, surging domestic gas production due to the shale revolution has oppressed LNG imports after 2010.

Since LNG prices are two-three times higher than pipeline supplied natural gas in the U.S., demand for LNG is shrinking. Average monthly LNG imports was 35.9 billion cubic feet in 2010 but slipped to 14.6 bcf in 2012. The average import figures have declined to 8.6 bcf in the first eight months in 2013.

Monthly volume of re-export LNG has also decreased from 5.4 bcf in 2010 to 2.4 bcf in 2012. The average in the first eight months in 2013 was only 15 million cf.

The change in the U.S. LNG trade structure seems to be the final phase toward the really net exporting country.

The U.S. government is aggressively giving approval of LNG exports to countries that have not signed on the Free Trade Agreement. Five LNG export projects have been granted approval. Four of the five projects were approved after May this year. Total supply capacity of the five projects is 7.8 bcf per day, or 58 million metric tonnes per year.

Sabine Pass project in Louisiana that was the first approved in 2011 is scheduled to start shipping of 2.2 bcf/d LNG in late 2015. Four other approved projects are also expected to start operations in 2017 or later.

Further 29 projects are under review by the Department of Energy. Total supply capacity of 34 projects are estimated at 34.1 bcf/d or 2,560 million tonnes per year. The total volume of globally traded LNG during 2012 was 31.7 bcf/d. The U.S. will have more supply capacity than it in early 2020s.

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