U.S. Oil and Gas Exports See an Impressive Start to 2019
Following a record-setting year for U.S. oil and natural gas production, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of American energy exports as the announcement of new export infrastructure projects and growing shipments abroad further strengthen the United States’ position in the global market.
A multitude of new U.S. liquified natural gas facilities are on the horizon.
One of the most notable developments over the past few months is the massive leap forward in LNG exports along the U.S. Gulf Coast. In December 2018, Texas saw it’s first export of LNG from Cheniere’s Corpus Christi LNG terminal, which represents the culmination of $13 billion in investment. Not two months later, the Pass LNG export terminal near Port Arthur, Texas, received a final investment decision, greenlighting the estimated $10 billion project. Further, that same week, Sempra Energy’s Port Arthur LNG facility passed a key environmental assessment, putting it one step closer to final federal approval for construction.
As if this weren’t impressive enough, two more major developments in LNG exports along the U.S. Gulf Coast are already making 2019 an incredible year for American energy exports. Recently, Sempra Energy announced it has 8,000 workers bringing its Cameron LNG export facility in Hackberry, La., online within the next few months, making it the third U.S. LNG export terminal in operation. More impressive still, last week, Venture Global LNG was the first LNG facility to gain final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in two years, meaning the estimated $5 billion project in Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana, could begin construction.
Driving the development of these projects is the growing demand for U.S. LNG abroad. Japan, already the world’s largest importer of LNG, is among a handful of Asian nations – such as China, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines – whose increasing dependence on natural gas could be a boon for U.S. LNG exporters. With reliable and abundant resources here, U.S. LNG exports can also benefit those countries importing shipments, as one article notes:
“Rising volumes of U.S. LNG exports are also helping to keep LNG prices down and boosting Japan’s economy. The nation has increased its reliance on LNG imports since shuttering dozens of nuclear power plants following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.” (emphasis added)
U.S. crude oil exports continue to break records.
But it’s not just natural gas exports that are experiencing an impressive start to the year. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, American crude oil exports hit an all-time high of 3.6 million barrels a day (b/d) in the week ending February 15, smashing the previous record of 3.2 million b/d set last November. To put the growth in American oil exports in perspective, that record of 3.6 million b/d is over nine times larger than the 399,000 b/d that were exported the same week in February three years ago.
Moreover, with a number of crude export infrastructure projects planned or proposed for the Gulf Coast, American oil exports show little sign of slowing down. Near Freeport, Texas, Enterprise Production Partners and a joint venture between Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and Oiltanking, have each planned offshore crude oil terminals – the Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT) and Texas Crude Offshore Loading Terminal (Texas COLT), respectively – that would allow for Very Large Crude Carriers filled with Texas oil to reach trading partners around the world. Further, the recently announced Texas GulfLink terminal proposed in the same region would add an additional 1.2 million b/d in export capacity.
Helping to boost the national economy and slash the trade deficit, the increase in U.S. crude exports has been made possible by record oil production – particularly in Texas. According to a recent report from the Texas Independent Royalty Owners Association, Texas crude oil production topped 1.54 billion barrels in 2018, easily beating the previous record of 1.28 billion barrels set in 1973. In the Permian Basin in West Texas, EIA estimates production to rise above 4 million b/d, while crude production nationally recently hit a record 12 million b/d in mid-February. All told, EIA estimates U.S. oil production to average 12.4 million b/d in 2019 and an incredible 13.2 million b/d next year.
2018 saw previous records shattered. At the rate U.S. oil and natural gas production continues to grow alongside important new domestic and export infrastructure projects, 2019 is already on pace to be even more impressive.