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    US Exports 8% More Gas in Q1


US gas exports narrowly exceeded imports for the first time in 60 years, but that export surplus will continue to grow.

by: William Powell

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US Exports 8% More Gas in Q1

US gas exports averaged 9.6bn ft³/d in the first quarter of this year, according to the Energy Information Administration’s most recent Natural Gas Monthly report. This is up 0.7bn ft³ (8%) on Q1 2017 and up by 3.8bn ft³/d on Q1 2016. But the US also imported gas in Q1 this year, leaving an overall export average of just 0.6bn ft³/d. This is the first time it has been a net exporter since 1957, the EIA said.

Since the beginning of 2016, four trains at Cheniere's Sabine Pass export terminal in Louisiana have come online with total peak nameplate capacity of 2.8bn ft³/d, as has Dominion's Cove Point in Maryland (0.8bn ft³/d peak nameplate capacity).  US natural gas exported as LNG averaged 2.6bn ft³/d in Q1 2018, which was 1.0bn ft³/d (62%) more than in the same period last year. EIA expects the US to have a total liquefaction capacity of 9.6bn ft³/d by the end of 2020.

Pipeline exports to Mexico were also up, thanks to extra capacity. They averaged 4.3bn ft³/d in the first three months of 2018, compared with 4.1bn ft³/d in the first three months of 2017, and 3.3bn ft³/d in the first three months of 2016. Exports to Mexico are expected to continue to increase to feed power-station demand.

Net imports from Canada declined, as more flowed in the opposite direction from the US Northeast. This decrease in net imports is expected to continue as the Rover and NEXUS pipelines begin to deliver additional supplies of low-cost natural gas from the Appalachia basin to the markets in the US Midwest and eastern Canada.

EIA projects US natural gas exports will continue growing through 2050 in its Annual Energy Outlook 2018 Reference case, as well as across most side cases.