The United States is on track to become the world’s largest LNG exporter this year, topping Australia and Qatar, as producers work to boost liquefaction capacity.
The volume exported in May was up from 6.93 million tonnes in April, and 12% more than a year earlier, according to preliminary Eikon data, based on vessel tracking. The record was 7.67 million tonnes in March.
LNG exports are getting a boost from additional capacity from Venture Global LNG Inc’s new Calcasieu Pass terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, and higher production at top U.S. exporter Cheniere Energy Inc.
The growth has some big consumers raising concerns over natural gas prices and production in the United States. Gas producers would have to accelerate output to accommodate growth in LNG exports without creating shortages for domestic consumers.
U.S. LNG producers in May sent almost two-thirds of total cargoes to Europe as customers demanded more in anticipation of reductions in Russian gas supplies, a trend since early 2022. Exports to Asia represented 15% of total, the data showed.
However, demand in Europe is expected to ease soon as inventories build and winter heating season ends, paving way for more U.S. shipments to Asia and other destinations.
“All factors remaining constant – such as no further cuts in Russian gas to Europe – we may see a rebalance of LNG vessels away from the region, which has become a black hole for LNG – drawing in all and every available cargo,” Rystad Energy analyst Lu Ming Pang said in a note to clients last week.
As the winter started in the Southern Hemisphere, an increasing number of U.S. LNG cargoes headed last month to South America and the Caribbean, with Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Dominican Republic as main destinations.
LNG producer Peru also ramped up exports to Europe in May, while shipments from Trinidad and Tobago fell for a third consecutive month.