Following a tie with Qatar in 2022, the US now leads the world in liquefied natural gas exports, ahead of Australia, as reported by Shipping Watch.
A turning point
Last year, the United States tied Qatar as the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, marking a turning point in the country’s rapid climb to prominence as a significant source of fuel.
According to Bloomberg’s analysis of ship-tracking data, both nations shipped 81.2 million tonnes in 2022. While that represents a slight increase for Qatar, it represents a significant advance for the US, which only started exporting LNG from the lower 48 states in 2016 but has suddenly emerged as the industry’s dominant force.
Shale gas revolution
The US went from being a net importer of LNG to a significant supplier thanks to the shale gas revolution and massive expenditures in liquefaction plants. Demand for US LNG has surged as a result of the global energy crisis and a move away from Russian pipeline gas, which may also assist promote the development of several new export projects along the Gulf Coast.
If not for a fire at the Freeport export plant in Texas, which has kept the plant closed since June, the US would have been the top LNG exporter in the world. The facility is expected to start up again later this month, solidifying the US as the fuel’s top exporter.
Expanding LNG exports
However, if the US intends to maintain its leadership position until the end of this decade, it will need to expand its LNG export capacity significantly. The massive production facility development that Qatar is currently undertaking may help it maintain its position as the LNG market leader starting in 2026. Australia is expected to continue to be the third-largest provider in the globe.
According to ship data, another shift would see Japan surpass China as the world’s largest LNG importer by 2022. Covid limitations in China reduced demand for the fuel, while competitors in Japan stocked up on gas in anticipation of the coming winter.
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Source: Shipping Watch