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The U.S. Was the World’s Top LNG Exporter in 2023

  • The US exported an average of 11.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of LNG in 2023, making it the top exporter globally.
  • Europe's reliance on LNG to replace Russian gas fueled a 12% increase in US LNG exports compared to 2022.
  • Qatar's planned expansion projects could challenge US dominance in the LNG market in the coming years.
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The United States beat out both Australia and Qatar to become the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2023, with an average of 11.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in exports last year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday.

Strong demand in Europe, the return of Freeport to full operations, and high utilization rates helped America raise its LNG exports by 12% annually in 2023 compared to 2022, per data from the EIA’s Natural Gas Monthly.

The U.S., with average LNG exports of 11.9 Bcf/d last year was well ahead of its closest rivals, Australia and Qatar, whose exports each ranged from 10.1 Bcf/d to 10.5 Bcf/d annually between 2020 and 2023.

U.S. LNG exports set monthly records at the end of last year, at 12.9 Bcf/d in November, followed by 13.6 Bcf/d in December. The EIA has estimated that utilization of U.S. LNG export capacity averaged 104% of nominal capacity and 86% of peak capacity across the seven U.S. LNG terminals operating in 2023.

Similar to 2022, Europe including Turkey was the top destination for U.S. LNG exports in 2023, accounting for 66%, or 7.8 Bcf/d, of all U.S. exports last year, followed by Asia with a 26% share, and Latin America and the Middle East with a combined 8%, according to the EIA data.

Europe continued to rely on U.S. LNG to replace the lost pipeline gas from Russia and raised significantly its LNG import capacity last year to welcome more cargoes.

The countries that imported the most U.S. LNG were the Netherlands, France, and the UK, with a combined 35%, or 4.2 Bcf/d, of all U.S. LNG exports.

In the medium to long term, however, the U.S. leadership in LNG exports could be challenged by Qatar, which is betting big on major expansion projects to boost its export capacity by 85% by 2030 from current levels, while the Biden Administration has paused new permit approvals to review the current criteria.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 01 2024 said:
    The United States was indeed the world's top LNG exporter in 2023 but at what price?.

    To achieve this distinction, it has initiated a sequence of events including provoking the Ukraine conflict in order to weaken Russia and its strategic alliance with China, pressurizing the EU to get involved in the Ukraine conflict and join sanctions against Russia thus plunging the EU economy in its worst disaster since the 1973 Arab oil embargo, severing the EU dependence on Russian gas via what appears to be on circumstantial evidence a sabotaging the Russian Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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