Despite—or even in spite of—a pandemic that’s ravaged oil and gas demand across the globe, the U.S. remains on course to become the largest exporter of LNG in as little as five years. True, the world’s four LNG heavyweight suppliers (Qatar, Australia, the U.S., and Russia) all have reduced shipments due to decline in demand. This “ouch” period after more than two years of record growth, especially in the U.S. According to the EIA, the U.S. hit an all-time high in January of 8.1 BCFD LNG exported just before COVID-19 slammed the industry into a cliff.
Since then, we’ve experienced our share of woes, including cancellations of 46 cargos in June and 50 in July where Sabine Pass in La., and Corpus Christi and Freeport, Texas, terminals took the harshest brunt. We’ve seen July LNG exports fall to 3.1 BCFD ferried aboard a scant four vessels. And domestic LNG operators with plans to add new liquefaction terminals? They’re reaching for a bottle of Excedrin and a shot of Tequila to wait it out.
Still, the nation’s leading LNG exporters, while holding tight, also are moving forward to ramp up operations and growth projects. Our data-gatherers and prognosticators at EIA forecast U.S. LNG exports will return to pre-COVID levels by November and will remain high at about 8-9 BCFD this winter and into next year. The Trump Administration in July extended LNG export authorizations through 2050, compared with previous terms that lasted 20 years.
For now, here’s a brief look at the latest happenings among our largest LNG champions.
- Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG export terminal located in Hackberry, La., has begun full commercial operations. The 12 MTPA liquefaction facility has to date shipped nearly 100 LNG cargoes totaling more than 6 million tons. Planned expansions to Cameron also are on the whiteboard, as well as proposed LNG projects in Port Arthur, Texas, and Mexico.
- Kinder Morgan has received the go-ahead to place its ninth train into service at the company’s Elba Island LNG plant near Savannah, Ga., with all 10 trains scheduled to begin service by this Fall.
- Houston-based Cheniere announced earlier this month increased revenues during 2Q despite a reduced number of cargoes and volumes produced and loaded. Construction on the company’s Sabine Pass terminal is now 64% complete. Train 3 on its Corpus Christi liquefaction facility is a few winks away from final commissioning with startup services expected in 2021. And Cheniere’s Midship natural gas pipeline extending from the Cushing, Okla., hub to the Gulf Coast began service in April.
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