The US became the world’s largest LNG exporter during 1H22, according to data from Cedigaz. Compared with 2H21, US LNG exports increased by 12 percent in 1H22, averaging 11.2 billion ft3/d. US LNG exports continued to grow for three reasons: increased LNG export capacity, increased international natural gas and LNG prices, and increased global demand, particularly in Europe.
According to the EIA’s estimates, installed US LNG export capacity has expanded by 1.9 billion ft3/d nominal (2.1 billion ft3/d peak) since November 2021. The capacity additions included a sixth train at the Sabine Pass LNG, 18 new mid-scale liquefaction trains at the Calcasieu Pass LNG, and increased LNG production capacity at Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi LNG facilities. As of July 2022 it is estimated that US LNG liquefaction capacity averaged 11.4 billion ft3/d, with a shorter-term peak capacity of 13.9 billion ft3/d.
International natural gas and LNG prices hit record highs in 4Q21 and 1H22. Prices at the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) in the Netherlands have been trading at record highs since October 2021. TTF averaged $30.94/million Btu during 1H22. LNG spot prices in Asia have also been high, averaging $29.50/million Btu during the same period.
Since the end of 2021, countries in Europe have increasingly imported more LNG to compensate for lower pipeline imports from Russia and to fill historically low natural gas storage inventories. LNG imports in the EU and UK increased by 63 percent during 1H22 to average 14.8 billion ft3/d.
Most US LNG exports went to the EU and the UK during the first five months of 2022 accounting for 71 percent, or 8.2 billion ft3/d, of the total US LNG exports. Similar to 2021, the US sent the most LNG to the EU and UK during 1H22, providing 47 percent of the 14.8 billion ft3/d of Europe’s total LNG imports, followed by Qatar at 15 percent, Russia at 14 percent, and four African countries combined at 17 percent.
In June 2022, the US exported 11 percent less LNG than the 11.4 billion ft3/d average exports during the first five months of 2022, mainly as a result of an unplanned outage at the Freeport LNG export facility. Freeport LNG is expected to resume partial liquefaction operations in early October 2022.
Utilization of the peak capacity at the seven US LNG export facilities averaged 87 percent during 1H22, mainly before the Freeport LNG outage, which was similar to the average utilization during 2021.
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