With the collapse of natural gas prices, the country has seen an ever growing surplus of fuels leading prime for export. A majority of the exports have been delivered to Mexico via multiple pipeline networks, now totaling 100,000 million cubic feet per month. Looking to greener pastures, the US has began seriously considering LNG exports. In late February, Cheniere Energy Partners became the first US company to export LNG from their Louisiana port. The milestone accomplishment has bigger implications for the US energy industry abroad.
The US is currently a net importer of natural gas, but with imports only representing 10% of the total natural gas supply in 2015. The EIA predicts that the US will be a net exporter of natural gas by early 2017, and could occur even earlier given the sustained low commodity price environment. In 2015 the United States imported natural gas mainly from Canada, totaling 7.5 billion cubic feet per day while they exported the majority of what was produced to Mexico, totaling 4.8 billion cubic feet per day.
Many of the current LNG export projects can serve a dual purpose, allowing for both exports and imports. The Federal Energy Regulation Commission supervises and oversees the construction and conversion of LNG export terminals, and is staying busy with the four LNG terminal projects currently under construction. The first stands alone on the East coast in Cove Point Maryland. This Cove Point LNG facility, being built by Dominion Energy, will add 0.82 billion cubic feet per day of export potential.
The remaining three projects all lie on the Gulf Coast, from Corpus Christi, TX to Freeport, TX and Hackberry, Louisiana. These are being developed by Cheniere, Freeport LNG, and Sempra Energy respectively. All three projects will add 5.64 billion cubic feet per day of LNG export potential.
Already, another 11 LNG export plants have been proposed along the gulf coast, with another 5 on the East and West coast. These proposed terminals face the uncertainty of global LNG demand, not to mention heavy competition from other domestic and foreign terminals. The Oregon LNG terminal was recently denied, as the FERC rejected Veresen Inc.’s multi-billion dollar project.