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U.S. LNG exports to Europe increase, but to China decrease

Christian Fernsby |
U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe have been growing steadily and reached a new peak of 4.7 billion cubic feet (about 133.1 million cubic meters) per day in May 2019, the U.S. Energy Information administration (EIA) reported.

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The EIA quoted the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy as reporting that although Asian countries have continued to account for a large share of U.S. LNG exports, shipments to Europe have increased significantly since October 2018 and accounted for almost 40 percent of U.S. LNG exports in the first five months of 2019.

According to the latest data published by the office, U.S. LNG exports to Europe surpassed exports to Asia for the first time in January 2019.

This year, the United States became the world's third-largest LNG exporter, averaging 4.2 billion cubic feet per day in the first five months of the year, exceeding Malaysia's LNG exports of 3.6 billion cubic feet per day during the same period.

The United States is expected to remain the third-largest LNG exporter in the world, behind Australia and Qatar, in 2019-2020.

U.S. LNG exports have increased as four new liquefaction units (trains) with a combined capacity of 2.4 billion cubic feet per day came online since November 2018. The EIA expects U.S. LNG exports will continue to increase in 2019 as the first trains at the two new liquefaction facilities come online in the next few months.

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA forecast U.S. LNG exports will average 4.8 billion cubic feet per day in 2019 and 6.9 billion cubic feet per day in 2020 as new liquefaction trains are commissioned in the next 18 months.

By 2021, six U.S. liquefaction projects are expected to be fully operational. Another two new U.S. liquefaction projects that started construction this year are expected to come online by 2025. By that time, EIA projects that the United States will have the world's largest LNG export capacity, surpassing both Qatar and Australia.

The latest data also showed China, which became the world's second-largest LNG importer in 2017 (surpassing South Korea) and the world's largest importer of total natural gas in 2018 (surpassing Japan and Germany), continued to increase LNG imports.

However, due to the ongoing trade tensions between China and the United States, a 10 percent tariff imposed by China on U.S. LNG made the U.S. LNG product less competitive in Chinese market.

According to the U.S. governmental data, LNG from the United States accounted for 7 percent of China's total LNG imports in the first six months of 2018.


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