LNG15: US seen relying on LNG to raise gas supply

LNG will bear the burden of increasing US natural gas supply through 2030, according to Guy Caruso, administrator, US Energy Information Administration.

Warren R. True
Chief Technology Editor-LNG Gas Processing

BARCELONA, Apr. 27 -- LNG will bear the burden of increasing US natural gas supply through 2030, according to Guy Caruso, administrator, US Energy Information Administration. He was speaking in the final keynote speech of the 15th International Conference & Exhibition on LNG in Barcelona.

Total gas supply will increase to 26.2 tcf in 2020 from 21.9 tcf in 2005, Caruso said, citing reference case projections in EIA's latest annual forecast. From that level, he said, supply will fall gradually to 2030 as demand declines in the face of electricity generation's increasing use of coal.

Gas supply growth will come from domestic unconventional production (tight sandstones, shales, and coalbed methane), LNG imports, and pipeline deliveries from Alaska. LNG imports, he said, will "meet much of the increased US demand." He called attention to expansions taking place and planned at three of the four land-based US regasification terminals along with current construction of four Gulf of Mexico terminals.

Liquefaction project delays in LNG producing countries, supply constraints at several liquefaction plants, and rapid growth of global LNG demand, however, will affect US markets through 2012. And Caruso agreed that the ongoing but so far unsuccessful negotiations between the state of Alaska and North Slope gas producers and rising worldwide materials prices in recent years continue to push back the start-up date for a pipeline from Alaska. Such doubts about a pipeline make LNG imports even more likely to carry the lion's share of gas supply.

US net LNG imports in EIA's reference case will increase to 4.5 tcf in 2030 from 600 bcf in 2005.

Addressing prospects for a worldwide LNG spot market, Caruso said near-term widening of the gap between liquefaction and regasification capacities will likely slow development of spot trade as projects give priority to fulfilling their long-term contracts, which generally make up about 80% of capacity for any given plant. But he agreed that, as this gap narrows by about 2012, spot trade in LNG should level out at about 20% of total worldwide trade.

Contact Warren R. True at warrent@ogjonline.com.

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