EIA: US LNG to lead continued natural gas export growth

April 18, 2024
The US Energy Information Administration’s most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook forecast that US LNG exports will continue to lead growth in US natural gas trade, driven by three plants.

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecast that US LNG exports will continue to lead growth in US natural gas trade, driven by three plants under construction and expected to start operations and ramp up to full production by the end of 2025. EIA also forecast increased natural gas exports by pipeline, mainly to Mexico.

The STEO forecasts that net exports of US natural gas (exports minus imports) will grow 6%, to 13.6 bcfd, in 2024 compared with 2023. In 2025, net exports are expected to increase another 20% to 16.4 bcfd.

US LNG exports will increase 2% in 2024 to average 12.2 bcfd. In 2025, EIA forecasts that LNG exports will grow by an additional 18% (2.1 bcfd). The administration expects US natural gas exports by pipeline to grow by 3% (300 MMcfd) in 2024 and by 4% in 2025. It expects pipeline imports to decline by 400 MMcfd in 2024 and then increase slightly (100 MMcfd) in 2025.

EIA expects existing US LNG plants to run at similar utilization rates to 2023. In April and May 2024, LNG exports will decline while two of the three trains at Freeport LNG Development LP’s 15-million tonne/year (tpy) plant undergo annual maintenance. Later in 2024, the administration expects Venture Global LNG Inc.’s 13.32-million tpy Plaquemines LNG Phase I and Cheniere Energy Inc.’s 10-million tpy Corpus Christi Stage 3 to begin LNG production, loading first cargoes by end-year. In 2025, ExxonMobil Corp. and QatarEnergy plan to place the first two trains of their 18-million tpy Golden Pass LNG plant into service.

US natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico will increase, according to EIA, as several pipelines in Mexico—including TC Energia Mexico’s 886-MMcfd Tula-Villa de Reyes and Tuxpan-Tula pipelines, and Energía Mayakan’s 550-MMcfd Cuxtal Phase II pipeline supplying the Yucatán Peninsula—become fully operational. These pipelines started partial service in 2022–23 but have not been operating at full capacity. Also, flows via TC Energy and IEnova’s 2.6-bcfd Sur de Texas-Tuxpan offshore pipeline are likely to increase slightly in 2024 when it begins delivering natural gas from the US to Mexico’s first LNG export plant, New Fortress Energy Inc. ’s 1.4-mtpy Fast LNG Altamira.