Viewpoint: US LNG export capacity to double next year

  • : Natural gas
  • 18/12/27

US nameplate LNG export capacity will likely double by the end of 2019 to 55.7mn t/yr, equivalent to 7.6 Bcf/d (8bn m³/yr) of gas, as all six facilities comprising the first wave of US LNG export projects are scheduled to come on line.

That would make the US the world's third-largest LNG export capacity holder behind Australia at 86.5mn t/yr and Qatar at 77mn t/yr. US peak capacity will likely reach 65mn t/yr by the end of 2019, up by 111pc on the year, but such production is not likely to be sustained over an entire year as it would require long-term ideal conditions, including weather. Nameplate capacity is what a facility expects to produce in the long term with average maintenance and weather, but daily production will fluctuate at higher and lower levels.

US gas production is expected to keep up with higher demand for LNG production and pipeline exports to Mexico. The US Energy Information Administration recently estimated that domestic dry gas production would rise to an average of 90 Bcf/d next year, from 83.3 Bcf/d this year.

Nameplate US LNG export capacity so far this year has grown by 54pc from 2017 to 27.8mn t/yr, while peak capacity also has increased by 54pc to 30.8mn t/yr.

Dominion's 5.25mn t/yr Cove Point LNG facility in Maryland started operations in March and Cheniere Energy's 4.5mn t/yr Corpus Christi LNG train 1 in Texas exported its first cargo on 11 December.

Cheniere previously said its 4.5mn t/yr Sabine Pass LNG train 5 in Louisiana likely would export its first cargo this month.

The second 4.5mn t/yr train at Corpus Christi is expected to start long-term operations in the second half of 2019.

Midstream company Kinder Morgan this month said the 10 small liquefaction trains at its Elba Island LNG export project in Georgia would come on line in phases from the first quarter to the fourth quarter of 2019. That would be a slight delay from the previous schedule of the fourth quarter this year to the third quarter of 2019. The units would have total nameplate capacity of 2.5mn t/yr and peak capacity of 4mn t/yr.

Sempra has said the three trains at its 12mn t/yr Cameron LNG project Louisiana would start operating sequentially next year.

The first of three 4.4mn t/yr trains being completed at the Freeport LNG plant in Texas is expected to start service in September, while trains 2 and 3 would come on line in 2020.

Next year could also see funding of some facilities that would be part of a so-called second wave of US LNG export capacity expected to come on line in the early to mid-2020s. Some of the companies that have said they plan to make positive investment decisions next year are Cheniere for its 4.5mn t/yr Sabine Pass train 6 and 9.5mn t/yr mid-scale train expansion at Corpus Christi; Tellurian for its $15.2bn, 27.6mn t/yr Driftwood LNG project in Louisiana; Venture Global for its $4.5bn, 10mn t/yr Calcasieu Pass LNG facility in Louisiana; NextDecade for its 27mn t/yr Rio Grande LNG project in Texas; Annova LNG for its planned $3bn, 6mn t/yr facility in Texas; Liquefied Natural Gas Limited for its for its $4.35bn, 8mn t/yr Magnolia LNG project in Louisiana; and Texas LNG for the $1bn-$1.2bn, 2mn t/yr initial phase of its project in that state.

Sempra plans to fund construction late next year of its 2.5mn t/yr first-phase Energia Costa Azul LNG export project in northwest Mexico, which would use US feed gas.

US gas production growing with LNG demand Bcf/d

Growth in US LNG capacity, 2016-19 mn t/yr

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more