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EIA: US to become net exporter of natural gas

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest ‘Short-Term Energy Outlook’ predicts that the US will export more natural gas than it imports in 2017.

The US has been a net exporter for three of the past four months and is expected to continue to export more natural gas than it imports for the rest of 2017 and throughout 2018.

This is a trend that is likely to continue beyond next year due to growing US natural gas exports to Mexico, declining pipeline imports from Canada, and increasing exports of LNG.

Mexico's domestic natural gas pipeline network is currently undergoing a major expansion , primarily to accommodate new natural gas pipeline imports from the US.

In addition, supplies of natural gas out of Appalachia into the Midwestern states are likely to gradually displace some pipeline imports from Canada as well as increase US pipeline exports to Canada from both Michigan and New York.

Five new LNG export projects are currently under construction (Cove Point, Cameron, Elba Island, Freeport, and Corpus Christi) and due to come online in the next three years, increasing total US liquefaction capacity from 1.4 billion ft3/d at the end of 2016 to 9.5 billion ft3/d by the end of 2019.

A fourth train at Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal is undergoing commissioning and a fifth train is expected to come online in 2019. Another liquefaction project at Cove Point, in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, is scheduled to come online later this year.

Based on construction plans, EIA expects that by 2020 the United States will have the third-largest LNG export capacity in the world after Australia and Qatar. The EIA also expects US LNG exports will reach 4.6 billion ft3/d by December 2018 as new liquefaction trains at Cameron, Freeport, and Elba Island come online. However, actual use of US LNG export terminals will be affected by the rate of global LNG demand growth and competition from other global LNG suppliers.

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