By Lorenz Duchamps
In a year when large economies in Europe and Asia scrambled to source enough supply for heating and power generation, the United States was sitting on a bevy of supply amid soaring international prices for natural gas and LNG.
In fact, the United States could have already been the world’s largest exporter of LNG if it weren’t for an explosion and fire in mid-2022 at a key export facility in Freeport, Texas. The incident knocked out about one-fifth of gas export capacity, putting pressure on Europe’s fragile gas supplies.
With the Freeport LNG facility fully operational, U.S. exports would have hit 86 million tons, Rystad Energy, a world-leading analysis company for the oil and gas industry, stated in late 2022. That would have officially made the United States the largest LNG exporter globally.
Rystad Energy stated in a recent report that U.S. LNG output is set to jump by 11 percent in 2023 when Freeport LNG’s capacity is fully restored, which will outpace the current trajectory of top exporters Qatar and Australia by millions. Australia is currently the world’s third-largest supplier.
However, for the United States to maintain its status as a market leader through the end of this decade, American entrepreneurs should start building new LNG export plants, Bloomberg noted.
Qatar could recapture the lead after its North Field expansion plan starts to enter service in 2027, which is expected to ramp up the country’s liquefaction capacity to 126 million metric tons per year.
However, considering the current trajectory, if U.S. suppliers can maintain the increase in supply through commissioning new plants, the country will be able to maintain its lead.
Global demand for LNG has grown steadily, hitting annual record highs since 2015. European economies and emerging Asian markets depend on LNG for power production and heating requirements.
The United States only started to export LNG in 2016 amid the increase in global demand, making it a huge leap for the nation to become such a dominant force in the industry in just seven years.
US Tanker Arrives in Germany
On Jan. 3, the first regular U.S. shipment of the supercooled natural gas arrived in Germany as part of a wide-reaching effort to help the country replace energy supplies that it had previously received from Russia.
The tanker vessel Maria Energy arrived at the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven, where its shipment of LNG will be converted back into gas at a special floating terminal that was inaugurated last month by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Germany has rushed to find a replacement for Russian gas supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The facility in Wilhelmshaven is one of several such terminals being put in place to help avert an energy supply shortage.
The Western European country has also temporarily reactivated old oil- and coal-fired power stations and extended the life of its last three nuclear power plants until mid-April.
Environmental campaigners said they planned to protest the arrival of the U.S. tanker, arguing that Germany shouldn’t be importing fossil fuels, particularly gas obtained through fracking.
Naveen Athrappully and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From NTD News.