The U.S. reclaimed its title as the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the first half of the year, according to Energy Information Agency data. The country first became the largest exporter in the first half of 2022. However, a fire at the Freeport LNG export terminal in Texas shut down that large facility for eight months, lowering the export volume, and leaving the U.S. behind Australia at the end of the year. With the restart of the facility early this year, the U.S. exported a record amount of LNG, averaging 20.4 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day, a 4% increase over the first half of last year. U.S. exports of LNG have risen exponentially since 2012, when less than 5 bcf a day was sent to other countries. The development of unconventional gas well technology, or fracking, has allowed vast amounts of natural gas to be added to the nation’s supply, including the large Marcellus and Utica shale plays. The additional infrastructure and LNG processing and export facilities have allowed the country to send more natural gas abroad to countries that cannot meet their energy needs.
The recent rise in LNG exports from the U.S. can also be partly attributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, which disrupted gas supplies from Russia across Europe. The Task Force for Energy Security, a partnership between the U.S. and the European Commission (EC) to increase LNG exports into Europe in response to the lack of Russian gas, was formed to ensure energy needs were met. “Like in 2022, EU countries (Europe) and the U.K. remained the main destination for U.S. LNG exports in first-half 2023, accounting for 67% (7.7 bcfd) of total U.S. exports. Five countries - the Netherlands, the U.K., France, Spain, and Germany - imported more than one-half (6 bcfd) of total U.S. LNG exports,” the Oil and Gas Journal reported. The EIA also predicts that the U.S. exports of LNG will continue to increase in 2024 as two new liquefaction facilities come online and demand remains strong.