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U.S. Catches Up With Qatar As The World’s Largest LNG Exporter

The United States has become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas alongside Qatar.

Bloomberg reported today that the lighting fast increase in U.S. LNG shipments abroad had brought it on par with the world’s largest exporter per cargo-tracking data compiled by the news agency. Both countries, Bloomberg said, exported 81.2 million tons of the superchilled fuel last year.

What’s more, the U.S. could have topped Qatar if it weren’t for the fire that shut down the Freeport LNG facility in mid-2022 and kept it shut down for the remainder of the year. With Freeport LNG, total U.S. LNG exports would have hit 86 million tons, Rystad Energy said at the end of last year.

This year, however, when Freeport LNG restarts, the United States could see an 11-percent increase in LNG exports, Rystad Energy said last year, which would make it officially the largest LNG exporter globally, surpassing Qatar.

Looking forward to the more distant future, however, U.S. producers of LNG would need to make an effort to retain the top spot as Qatar works to boost its annual export capacity to over 100 million cu m.

Demand, meanwhile, is something that U.S. producers do not need to worry about. As Europe pivots away from Russia pipeline gas, it will remain a huge source of demand for American LNG for the observable future.

Demand for LNG in Asia is also on the mend, Rystad Energy analysts said in December, which suggests prices for the fuel will also likely remain elevated for the observable future.

The United States only joined the LNG export scene in 2016 amid an abundance of shale gas and growing demand for gas globally. Asia used to be the top destination for U.S. cargos until last year when Europe suddenly emerged as a major importer amid Russia’s gas supply cuts and the EU’s determination to switch its gas dependence on Russia with one on the United States.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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