LNG exports jump in 2018, as more facilities come online

The Energy Information Administration projects U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) gross exports will average 3.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, up from 1.9 Bcf/d in 2017.

U.S. liquefaction capacity will continue to expand, as EIA reports in the just-released Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) expects Dominion Energy’s Cove Point terminal in Maryland to ramp up to full export capacity of 1.8 Bcf/d.

At the Elba Island facility in Georgia, six of 10 small modular trains, totaling 0.18 Bcf/d of export capacity, are expected to enter service. The first liquefaction train (capacity 0.7 Bcf/d) at Freeport LNG in Texas is also expected to come online by the end of 2018.

EIA projects gross LNG exports to average 4.8 Bcf/d in 2019, when the four remaining modular trains at Elba Island come online and the remaining two trains at Freeport LNG enter service, Kallanish Energy finds.

Two trains in Corpus Christi, Texas, and three trains at Cameron LNG in Louisiana are also expected to enter service in 2019.

“EIA forecasts exports will ramp up in the second half of 2019 to an average of 5.5 Bcf/d, up from 4.1 Bcf/d in the first half of 2019,” STEO projects.

Natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico through October increased by 0.4 Bcf/d in 2017 compared with the same period in 2016, and EIA expects growth to continue over the forecast period.

A relatively low natural gas export price, rising demand from Mexico’s power sector, and increased pipeline capacity in both the U.S. and Mexico have led to increased exports.

U.S. gross pipeline exports are expected to increase by 0.6 Bcf/d in 2018, and 0.8 Bcf/d in 2019, to an average of 8.0 Bcf/d.

Total U.S. natural gas imports averaged 8.2 Bcf/d in 2017, and are projected to average 7.9 Bcf/d in 2018, and 8.2 Bcf/d in 2019.

A low natural gas price environment in western Canada could contribute to increased seasonal imports for some regional U.S. markets, according to STEO.

Last year, the U.S. was a net exporter of natural gas for the first time on an annual basis, with net exports averaging 0.4 Bcf/d.

Overall, net natural gas exports are forecast to average 2.3 Bcf/d in 2018, and 4.6 Bcf/d in 2019.

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