US Exceeds One-Year Mark as Natural Gas Exporter
US net natural gas exports in February totaled 4.6 Bcf/D, according to a new report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). This markets 13 consecutive months in which US natural gas exports have exceeded imports.
Although US LNG exports have grown in recent years, most natural gas exports are being sent by pipeline to neighboring Canada and Mexico. The EIA said natural gas exports to Canada tend to be seasonal, increasing in the winter months because of Canada’s use of natural gas as a heating fuel in its more populous eastern provinces. Natural gas exports to Mexico are steadier, reflecting that country’s use of natural gas for more than half of its power generation and for industrial purposes.
US exports by pipeline to Canada have gone up since November, when the second phase of the Rover pipeline and the NEXUS pipeline entered service. Those projects bring natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica plays in the Appalachian Basin to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada, northeast of Detroit, Michigan. EIA reported that US natural gas exports to Canada reached 3.3 Bcf/D in February, the highest on record; natural gas exports by pipeline to Canada averaged 2.3 Bcf/D last year.
US pipeline exports of natural gas to Mexico in 2018 averaged 5.2 Bcf/D, up from 4.2 Bcf/D in 2017. Much of the recent growth was due to increased US exports out of the Permian Basin as new pipelines were installed and natural gas-fired power plant projects in Mexico entered service. EIA noted that several existing pipeline expansions in south Texas were completed in the past 12 months as well, increasing cross-border capacity.
US LNG exports averaged 3.0 Bcf/D in 2018 and recently hit a high of 4.1 Bcf/D in January. The volume of US LNG exports rose steadily throughout 2018 as three new trains—at the Cove Point, Sabine Pass, and Corpus Christi terminals—entered service. Those three trains have a combined capacity of 1.9 Bcf/D, bringing total US LNG export nameplate capacity to 4.3 Bcd/D at the end of 2018. LNG export volumes are expected to keep rising in 2019 as an additional 4.0 Bcf/D of liquefaction capacity is brought on line by the end of the year.
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