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From Site Selection magazine, May 2024

Federal Pause on New LNG Export Terminals Doesn’t Mean Pause of Exports or Expansions Already Underway

Oil & Gas
Cheniere’s Sabine Pass Liquefaction export terminal in Louisiana can accommodate three vessels.
Photo courtesy of Bechtel

by Adam Bruns

he federal government early this year hit “pause” on further LNG export terminals in order to reconsider some aspects of the environmental review process.

But that doesn’t mean the LNG exports that began in February 2016 have paused.

That very same government’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a State of the Markets report in March 2024 that reported net exports of natural gas increased 21% from 2022 and represented 12.7% of total U.S. natural gas demand in 2023. “This increase was in part because additional FERC-authorized export liquefaction capacity increased from 11.2 Bcfd [billion cubic ft. per day] to 14.2 Bcfd during the year,” the FERC report said. Moreover, the growth of those exports supported pipeline construction throughout the country’s south-central region. “More than 43% of the pipeline capacity additions in the last five years are located in or connected to the South-Central region, and are largely designed to provide feedstock to LNG export terminals.”

The United States exported 4.3 trillion cubic feet to 40 countries via vessels in 2023, with nearly two-thirds of total U.S. LNG volumes shipped to Europe. Data on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website show that during the month of January 2024 there were 156 LNG export events, 31 of them via smaller tank containers shipped from mostly Florida ports to destinations such as Haiti, Bahamas and Barbados, and 125 via LNG vessels sailing from U.S. LNG export terminals toward locations as diverse as Belgium, Turkey, Thailand, Lithuania, Brazil, China and Greece. The top suppliers by point of embarkation are listed on the chart to the left.

Company/Operation Location January 2024 Sailings
Cheniere/Sabine Pass Liquefaction Sabine Pass, LA 39
Freeport LNG Expansion Freeport, TX 18
Cheniere Marketing Corpus Christi, TX 18
Venture Global Calcasieu Pass Cameron, LA 15
Cameron LNG Cameron, LA 12
Mitsui & Co./Cameron LNG Cameron, LA 9
ST Cove Point & Gail Global Cove Point, MD 7
Shell NA/Southern LNG Elba Island, GA 6

“By 2030, the U.S. will have a total of 11 LNG export plants in operations,” says the Center for LNG, the Washington, D.C.-based industry association that’s part of the Natural Gas Supply Association. “The combined value of the LNG exported by these plants will reach $100 billion,” the Center says, citing a report from the Energy Policy Research Foundation (EPRF). That’s 3% of the entire U.S. trade balance. Without it, says the briefing, the August 2022 U.S. trade deficit would have been $72 billion, or 7.5% higher.

“There is a shock going through the community of interest” since the announcement of the pause, Max Pyziur, director of research at the EPRF, tells Site Selection. Meanwhile, a number of LNG export terminal projects continue to move forward, including the three-train Rio Grande LNG Phase 1 project in Brownsville from NextDecade Corp., whose $18.4 billion financing is the largest greenfield energy project financing in U.S. history. 

The Texas LNG project in Brownsville also is in progress, as is Sempra Infrastructure’s Port Arthur LNG project. Sempra and Bechtel as of March 2024 had hired more than 1,000 construction and office staff since the FID. Bechtel also has more than 100 local vendors for the project, totaling more than $160 million in local contracts. 

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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