Growth in natural gas leads to new export terminals

Published on March 06, 2016 by Jessica Limardo

The natural gas industry reached a major milestone on Feb. 24 with its first shipment of liquified natural gas, giving the United States a new asset in worldwide energy trade.

Due to the rise of shale gas extraction over the last decade, the natural gas industry has grown each year since 2006. The boom in production has led to a decline in domestic natural gas prices and led to rising natural gas exports, in part from various pipelines leading to Mexico and overseas markets via liquid natural gas (LNG) tankers.

The United States is currently a net importer of natural gas, with gross imports representing approximately 10 percent of total supply in 2015. The U.S. imported approximately 7.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d) and exported approximately 4.8 Bcf/d.

When natural gas is cooled to -260 degrees Fahrenheit it becomes a liquid that is 1/600th of its gaseous volume, making it much easier to transport via vessel. The abundance of pipelines across the U.S. has led to the construction of new LNG export terminals to keep up with demand. Many of the new export terminals will be connected to existing import terminals.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is responsible for authorizing the construction of LNG export and import terminals that are onshore or close to shore.