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Exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) out of the United States are set to exceed America’s gross natural gas exports via pipeline on an annual basis in 2022, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.
LNG exports are set to remain strong this year, after recovering at the end of last year from the pandemic-inflicted slump in global energy demand and depressed gas prices.
EIA expects LNG exports to average 8.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2021 and 9.2 Bcf/d next year, compared with expectations of average gross pipeline exports of 8.8 Bcf/d in 2021 and 8.9 Bcf/d in 2022. LNG exports are set to be higher than natural gas exports by pipeline in the first and fourth quarters of 2021 and on an annual basis in 2022, the EIA said.
For most of the spring and summer of last year, American LNG exports were low, and they even hit their lowest volume in 26 months during the summer due to depressed demand with lockdowns all over the world. When demand for natural gas across the world plunged due to the pandemic, buyers began to cancel cargo loadings of U.S. LNG, as gas in storage from Europe to Asia was abundant after a milder winter and the coronavirus that wiped out a lot of previously expected demand.
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However, with the 2020/2021 winter season approaching, U.S. LNG exports rebounded and set records in two consecutive months, in November and then in December 2020, according to EIA data.
In November, U.S. LNG exports hit an all-time high, due to recovering global gas demand and prices and unplanned outages at LNG export facilities outside the U.S. According to EIA estimates, the U.S. exported a total of 9.4 Bcf/d of LNG in November 2020, beating the previous record set in January 2020, when exports totaled 8.1 Bcf/d.
The November record was smashed as early as in the next month, when exports in December 2020 averaged 9.8 Bcf/d, according to EIA estimates based on the shipping data provided by Bloomberg Finance.
Since November 2020, all six U.S. LNG export facilities have been operating near full design capacity, the EIA said today.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.