US Top LNG Exporter in 2023 with Record Levels

Thursday, January 4, 2024

U.S. liquefied natural gas exports hit monthly and annual record highs in December, tanker tracking data showed, with analysts saying it positioned the United States to leapfrog Qatar and Australia to become the largest exporter of LNG in 2023.

The U.S. was the stand out in global LNG supply growth in 2023, said Alex Munton, director of global gas and LNG research at consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group of the rise to 8.6 million metric tons leaving U.S. terminals in December.

Qatar was the largest LNG exporter in 2022 and Australia the second-largest that year, U.S. government data showed.

"U.S. record production was driven by two factors: the return of Freeport LNG to full service, which added 6 MT and the full-year output of Venture Global LNG's Calcasieu Pass facility that added 3 MT more than in 2022," Munton said.

Full year exports from the U.S. rose 14.7% to 88.9 million metric tons (MT) driven largely by the return to full production of the Freeport LNG plant that had suffered a fire in 2022, and as others increased processing efficiency, LSEG data showed.

Shipments compare to 77.5 million metric tons in 2022, the data from the financial information provider showed.

Europe remained the main destination for U.S. LNG exports in December, with 5.43 MT, or just over 61%. In November, 68% of U.S. LNG exports were to Europe, LSEG data showed.

The month-over-month drop reflected warmer than normal temperatures in Europe and elevated storage levels, analysts at consultants Rystad Energy said. European gas storage was about 97% full at the beginning of December, it reported.

Asia was the second largest export market for U.S. LNG in December, taking 2.29 MT, or 26.6%, of exports, up from 18.5% in November. U.S. exports to Latin America were half a million metric tons, or just under 6% of total exports, LSEG ship tracking data showed.

Natural gas flows to the seven big U.S. LNG export plants have climbed an average 14.9 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in January, up from a monthly record of 14.7 bcfd in December. That topped the prior all-time monthly high of 4.3 bcfd in November, LSEG data showed.

U.S. gas was trading Tuesday morning at $2.55 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at the Henry Hub benchmark in Louisiana NGc1, $9.81 per mmBtu at the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) benchmark in Europe TRNLTTFMc1 and $11.52 per mmBtu at the Japan Korea Marker (JKM) in Asia JKMc1. NG/EU

(Reuters - Reporting by Curtis Williams in Houston; additional reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; editing by Alexander Smith)

Categories: Energy LNG Industry News Activity North America

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