In a remarkable energy milestone, the US claimed the top spot as an LNG exporter in 2023, according to December records. This unprecedented surge in U.S. LNG exports surpassed the previous leaders, Qatar and Australia.
According to tanker tracking data, the U.S. achieved a record high in monthly and annual LNG exports last December, marking a significant milestone where the US claimed the top spot as LNG exporter. This surge was primarily attributed to two significant developments in the U.S. LNG sector. Firstly, the Freeport LNG plant was returned to full service, which added an impressive 6 million metric tons (MT) to the export tally. Secondly, the year-round operation of Venture Global LNG’s Calcasieu Pass facility contributed an additional 3 MT compared to 2022.
The total U.S. LNG exports for the year soared by 14.7% to a staggering 88.9 million metric tons. This increase marks a substantial recovery and growth from the previous year, especially considering the challenges faced by the Freeport LNG plant, which suffered a fire in 2022.
Europe continued to be the primary market for U.S. LNG exports, with December figures showing that over 61% (5.43 MT) of the U.S. exports were directed there. This, however, represented a slight decrease from November, when Europe received 68% of U.S. LNG exports. The drop was linked to warmer temperatures and high gas storage levels in Europe.
Asia emerged as the second-largest recipient of U.S. LNG in December, accounting for 26.6% (2.29 MT)of the total exports, a rise from 18.5% in November. Latin America also featured as a notable market, receiving just under 6% of the U.S. exports.
The increased export capacity was supported by robust natural gas flows to major U.S. LNG export plants, averaging 14.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in January, up from December’s record of 14.7 Bcf/d.
The U.S. LNG market dynamics are also reflected in the pricing. U.S. gas traded at $2.55 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) at the Henry Hub, while European and Asian benchmarks, TTF and JKM, were at $9.81 and $11.52 per MMBtu, respectively.
This landmark achievement by the U.S. in the global LNG market underscores the country’s growing influence in the global energy landscape, reshaping traditional energy dynamics and offering new dimensions to international energy politics and economics.