Natural gas supply to US LNG terminals could reach 14.7 Bcf/d (416mn m3) within a decade
Consultancy ICF, in a report released yesterday, said that high availability of US oil and gas could push exports to almost 23 Bcf/d shortly after 2040. The study was prepared for LNG Allies, a group of export project sponsors and state and local organizations.
Sustained high prices for crude oil, which LNG contracts are indexed to in Asia and other regions, would spur exports to 32 Bcf/d around 2035, the report found.
ICF based its estimates using data from the US Energy Information's 2018 Annual Energy Outlook. The consultancy assumed long-term capacity utilization rates of export terminals at 85pc. The EIA outlook assumes that a volume of natural gas equivalent to 10pc of LNG exports will be used as fuel at the terminals.
Gas liquefaction plants for export frequently run at their maximum capacity, and some can exceed nameplate output. ICF Vice President Harry Vidas explained that LNG export plants might be down for planned maintenance three weeks a year and are also subject to unplanned outages. They also must respond to global competition.
Cheniere's Sabine Pass plant in Texas came on line two years ago and has been expanded to four liquefaction trains with combined peak capacity of 20mn t/yr, equivalent to 2.76 Bcf/d (28.5bn m?/yr) of gas. Dominion's Cove Point plant in Maryland started long-term service last week to offtakers.
The US is "on the way to having six export terminals," LNG Allies executive director Fred Hutchison said. Next year the country is expected to more than double its LNG exports to nearly 10 Bcf/d, up from 4 Bcf/d today.
Most of the projects will be able to produce some cargoes in excess of commitments to long-term contracts.
The 2.5mn t/yr Elba Island LNG project in Georgia is likely to be the next plant to start, in the middle of the year.
Cheniere Energy's Corpus Christi project is due to come on line in February 2019 and has 1.2 Bcf/d contracted. The company has said the plant could be on line as early as the fourth quarter. The outlook for train 5 at Sabine Pass is similar.