U.S. Shale Gas Exports Soar to a Record Paceby Will Brackett
America’s natural gas is flowing out of the country at a record pace, helping to ease a supply glut at home while tumbling prices for the fuel entice overseas buyers.
When the liquefied natural gas tanker Ribera Del Duero Knutsen left Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass export terminal in Louisiana late Tuesday, it became the 18th ship to depart the terminal in May. That’s the highest monthly total since the first vessel sailed from the facility last year.
Natural gas from American shale basins is flooding the global market, reaching customers from China to the Dominican Republic, and more is on the way as Cheniere prepares to start up a fourth plant at Sabine Pass.
The shipments are putting the U.S. on the path to becoming a net gas exporter by next year — a welcome development for the nation’s gas bulls, who need exports to bolster prices as mild weather leaves a stubborn stockpile glut intact.
“The pace of exports is pretty impressive,” Jason Feer, head of business intelligence at ship broker Poten & Partners Inc. in Houston, said. Cheniere “has been able to place cargoes with relatively little trouble and to a pretty wide variety of customers.”
While Asia has stepped up imports of U.S. gas since last winter, Mexico and Latin America have also been among the biggest buyers. American cargoes have gone to Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, a notable development given that nearby Qatar is the world’s largest LNG exporter.