From Imports to Exports
"Seems like it’s been forever in coming," wrote Marcellus Drilling News earlier this week, "but finally (!) Cheniere Energy has shipped their first LNG tanker of exported shale gas from the Sabine Pass facility on the border of Texas and Louisiana." The shipment is headed for Brazil.
Marcellus Drilling News went on: "The Sabine Pass terminal is a testament to the dramatic shift in the U.S. gas market over the past decade. It began as an import complex and was turned into an export site after hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling started unleashing more gas from shale formations than the U.S. could burn on its own."
The venerable US Energy Information Agency made the same point about a month ago in a more general way when it projected that by 2017 the United States will be a net exporter of natural gas.
What's the dynamic driving the change of net imports to net exports? Well obviously, the EIA writes, there's the "increase in U.S. natural gas production, leading to a decline in U.S. imports of natural gas but also "the beginning of operations at the Sabine Pass LNG export facility in Louisiana, with exports of domestically produced natural gas expected to start in the first quarter of 2016, and expand through 2017 as more of the facility's liquefaction capacity enters service. Additionally, with the expansion of infrastructure at the U.S./Mexico border, as well as within Mexico, U.S. exports to Mexico reached record levels in 2015, and the growth in U.S. exports to Mexico is forecast to continue."
Here's the US EIA's chart on the phenomenon. Take the good news where you can...