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US LNG Projects Set to Receive Approvals for Unprecedented Volumes
US LNG Projects Set to Receive Approvals for Unprecedented Volumes

US LNG Projects Set to Receive Approvals for Unprecedented Volumes

  • 26-Jun-2023 12:34 PM
  • Journalist: Harold Finch

US: In the first half of this year, U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) developers are set to green-light three export projects with a total capacity of 5.1 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), marking a new high for LNG projects in a single year. The surge in construction of LNG plants and abundant shale gas discoveries over the past decade has propelled the U.S. to become the largest LNG producer by installed capacity worldwide in 2022. With exports predicted to hit 12.1 bcfd in 2021 and 12.7 bcfd in 2022, the U.S. is well positioned to maintain its lead in the global LNG market.

Continued approvals for LNG projects are steadily reducing the backlog of ventures seeking financial backing and customers committed to long-term contracts. Experts predict that the demand for this fuel will remain strong throughout the year, thus sustaining the flow of approvals. Global demand for LNG is projected to surge from 399 million tonnes in 2022 to 627 million tonnes by 2035, indicating a rise of over 50%.

This year, two major LNG projects have been greenlit by American developers: the second phase of Venture Global LNG's Plaquemines, which has a capacity of 1.2-bcfd and is in Louisiana, and Sempra Energy's Port Arthur project in Texas, with a capacity of 1.8-bcfd. NextDecade Corp has announced their plans to approve the first phase of their Rio Grande LNG project in Brownsville, Texas, with a capacity of 2.1-bcfd, by the end of this month. The company has stated that initial production could commence in 2027.

Now that the final investment decisions (FID) have been made, companies are able to move forward with significant construction projects following the signing of financing and construction agreements. Typically, it takes between three to five years for new plants to begin producing their first LNG. This year's combined total of 5.1 bcfd marks the highest volume of U.S. approved projects since 2014, when three projects having a capacity of 4.9 bcfd received financial approvals. Currently, there are seven operational U.S. export plants that can convert approximately 13.8 bcfd of gas into LNG.

This year, a few other projects that export LNG are seeking to acquire adequate customers to get the green light for operation - some even after years of development. The first 0.4-bcfd phase of Delfin Midstream's offshore Louisiana project and the first 1.3-bcfd phase of Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass 2 (CP2) project in Louisiana are among the top contenders.

There are currently four LNG plants in the United States that are being constructed: Golden Pass joint venture by QatarEnergy and Exxon Mobil Corp, which has a capacity of 2.4-bcfd and is in Texas; Plaquemines by Venture Globe, which can process 2.9-bcfd; Corpus Christi LNG expansion by Cheniere Energy Inc, with a capacity of 1.5-bcfd; and Port Arthur by Sempra. Once these four plants become operational between 2024-2028, the US's LNG export capability will increase from 15.3 bcfd next year to 22.3 bcfd in 2028. Currently, the LNG capacity in Qatar is 10.1 bcfd, and in Australia, it is 11.5 bcfd. However, with the North Field expansion in Qatar set for completion around 2025 and the Pluto expansion in Australia around 2026, their LNG capacity is on track to increase to approximately 14.3 bcfd and 12.2 bcfd, respectively.

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