March 14 -- Exports of LNG will continue to drive growth in US natural gas exports over the next two years, according to the U.S Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) recently released Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).
In its March STEO, the EIA forecast that US LNG exports will average 12.1 billion ft3/d in 2023, a 14% (1.5 billion ft3/d) increase compared with last year. It expects LNG exports to increase by an additional 5% (0.7 billion ft3/d) in 2024.
The EIA forecasts US LNG exports to rise because of high global demand, as LNG will continue to displace pipeline natural gas exports from Russia to Europe. So far this year, mild winter temperatures and fuller-than-average storage resulted in reduced LNG prices, which could be an incentive to import more LNG, especially in the price-sensitive countries of Southeast Asia. The Freeport LNG export terminal's return to service and the new LNG export projects that will be commissioned by the end of 2024 support the forecast increase in exports.
The Freeport LNG terminal is one of seven US LNG export facilities; it can produce 2.14 billion ft3/d of LNG on a peak day. Prior to the full shutdown of the facility in June 2022, exports from the facility averaged 1.9 billion ft3/d from January 2021 through May 2022, according to the EIA’s Natural Gas Monthly.
Because of the Freeport shutdown, US LNG exports declined to an average 10 billion ft3/d from June 2022 through December 2022, after peaking at 11.7 billion ft3/d in March. When the new Calcasieu Pass LNG export facility was commissioned, it partially offset the decline in exports from Freeport LNG; exports from Calcasieu Pass have averaged 1.2 billion ft3/d since June 2022.
This year, once all three trains at Freeport LNG return to service, the EIA forecasts US LNG exports to exceed 12 billion ft3/d, and the US will remain the world’s largest LNG exporter. The EIA forecasts that US LNG exports will increase further, to approximately 14 billion ft3/d by December 2024, because some LNG export projects under construction are expected to start operations by then.
The EIA expects US natural gas exports by pipeline to grow by 0.5 billion ft3/d in both 2023 and 2024, mainly because of increased exports to Mexico. Several new pipelines in Mexico – Tula-Villa de Reyes, Guaymas-El Oro, the Mayakan pipeline on the Yucatán Peninsula, as well as some other minor interconnects – are scheduled to come online in 2023 – 2024. It also expects an increase in exports via the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan underwater pipeline to supply the proposed floating liquefaction project off the east coast of Mexico.