Global LNG exports rose by about 3% on-year to reach 412.44 mt in 2023, thanks largely to a ramp-up in US shipments that took the country to the top LNG exporter spot for the first time, surpassing rival exporting countries Australia and Qatar.
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According to Kpler data, the US exported 86.15 mt of LNG last year, up by 10.04 mt, or about 13%, from 76.11 mt in 2022 and accounted for about 21% of global LNG exports last year. Its increased shipments constituted almost 80% of the 12.86 mt expansion in global LNG exports last year, amid limited new project start-ups and expansions.
Exports were higher from all of the seven LNG plants in the US except the 15 mtpa Corpus Christi LNG plant whose exports slipped to 14.73 mt from 14.84 mt in 2022.
The 15 mtpa Freeport LNG plant’s return to production in February last year, following a fire that shut the plant in June 2022, along with a full year of output at Venture Global’s 10 mtpa Calcasieu Pass LNG plant, contributed significantly to the higher exports from the US last year. Calcasieu Pass began LNG exports on Mar. 1, 2022.
Freeport shipped 12.04 mt last year, more than double its exports of 5.97 mt in 2022, while exports from Calcasieu Pass rose by about 53% to 9.53 mt from 6.23 mt a year earlier, Kpler data show. The two projects alone contributed 9.37 mt, or about 93%, of the 10.04 mt increase in US LNG exports last year.
The US sent 65%, or about 56.21 mt, of its LNG exports last year to Europe, up from 52.45 mt in 2022, reflecting the continent’s continued need for LNG to replace lost Russian pipeline gas. Asia and Latin America received 27% and 7% of US LNG shipments, respectively, last year, while the destinations for the remaining 1% of shipments are still unclear.
The world’s LNG export leader in 2022, Australia, slipped to second place with a slight year-on-year increase of shipments of 0.37 mt, or 0.45%, to 80.9 mt, while Qatar took third place with a 0.5% on-year dip in exports to 79.81 mt, Kpler data show.
Exports from such other countries as Russia, Nigeria, Oman and Papua New Guinea also posted year-on-year declines but an increase in exports from Malaysia, Indonesia and Algeria helped to offset the lower shipments.
The 3.8 mtpa third train of BP’s Tangguh LNG project in Indonesia began exports in October last year, helping to boost overall shipments from Indonesia. Tangguh shipped 5.6 mt of LNG in 2023, about 16% more than it did a year earlier, according to Kpler data.
The Tangguh third train was the only new LNG supply project to have begun exports last year, although such other projects as New Fortress Energy’s 1.4 mtpa Altamira in Mexico, BP’s 2.4 mtpa Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) floating LNG facility in Senegal and Mauritania and the 0.6 mtpa Tango FLNG facility in Congo were also expected to do so by year-end.
NFE introduced first gas into Altamira at the start of last month, while operator Eni said on Dec. 28 that it had introduced first gas at the Congo FLNG facility and expects to produce the first LNG cargo from project by the first quarter of this year.
Commercial operations at the GTA project are expected to start in the third quarter of this year; yet another pushback from the previous date of second quarter of the year. The Gimi FLNG unit arrived at the GTA project site on Jan. 10, after departing from Singapore’s Seatrium shipyard in November. According to Golar, who owns the Gimi unit, commissioning activities have started in January and are expected to be finalised in six months.
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