The U.S. became the world’s No. 1 LNG Exporter (liquefied natural gas) for the first time ever last month, as deliveries surged to energy-starved Europe.
Output from American facilities edged above Qatar in December after a jump in exports from the Sabine Pass and Freeport facilities, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Cheniere Energy Inc. said last month that a new production unit at its Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana produced its first cargo.
A shale gas revolution, coupled with billions of dollars of investments in liquefaction facilities, transformed the U.S. from a net LNG importer to a top exporter in less than a decade. Gas production has surged by roughly 70% from 2010 and the nation is expected to have the world’s largest export capacity by the end of 2022 once Venture Global LNG’s Calcasieu Pass terminal comes online.
But the U.S.’s position as top LNG shipper may be short-lived. Exports were just a hair above those from Qatar and Australia, and any production issues could affect the rankings. Looking further out, Qatar is planning a gargantuan export project. It will come online in the late 2020s. This could cement the middle eastern nation as the top supplier of the fuel.
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