US becomes world’s largest LNG exporter

26 July 2022

The United States became the world’s largest LNG exporter during the first half of 2022, according to data from the International Association for Natural Gas, commonly known as CEDIGAZ.

U.S. LNG exports rose 12% in the first half of 2022, averaging 11.2 Bcf/d, when compared with the same period one year earlier. Exports continued to climb for three key reasons: increased LNG export capacity, greater international prices and stronger demand, particularly in Europe, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported.

Installed U.S. LNG export capacity has grown by 1.9 Bcf/d since November 2021. The additional capacity comes from a sixth train at the Calcasieu Pass LNG plant and additional LNG production from the Sabine Pass LNG and Corpus Christi LNG plants.

The EIA estimates U.S. LNG liquefaction capacity averaged 11.4 Bcf/d as of July, with a short-term peak capacity of 13.9 Bcf/d. International natural gas and LNG prices hit record highs in the last quarter of 2021 and first half of 2022.

Prices at the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) in the Netherlands have been trading at record highs since October 2021. TTF averaged $30.94 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) during the first half of 2022. LNG spot prices in Asia have also been high, averaging $29.50/MMBtu during the same period.

Since the end of 2021, European countries have imported more LNG to compensate for reduced pipeline supplies from Russia. In addition, the region is working to fill historically low natural gas storage inventories. LNG imports in the EU and UK increased by 63% during the first half of 2022 to average 14.8 Bcf/d, the EIA reported.

Most U.S. LNG exports went to the EU and the UK from January through May, accounting for 71%, or 8.2 Bcf/d, of the total U.S. LNG exports. Similar to 2021, the United States sent the majority of its LNG to the EU and UK during the first half of the year, providing 47% of the 14.8 Bcf/d of Europe’s total LNG imports, followed by Qatar at 15%, Russia at 14%, and four African countries combined at 17%.

In June, the United States exported 11% less LNG than the 11.4 Bcf/d average exports during the first five months of 2022, mainly as a result of an unplanned outage at the Freeport LNG export facility. Freeport LNG is expected to resume partial liquefaction operations in early October 2022.

Utilization of the peak capacity at the seven U.S. LNG export facilities averaged 87% during the first half of 2022, mainly before the Freeport LNG outage, which is similar to the utilization on average during 2021, the EIA reported.

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