The US emerged as the globe’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the global market in 2023, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing tanker tracking and government data. Australia came in second, while Qatar, which ranked first in 2022, saw its output drop by 1.9% and slid to third place.
According to the report, US LNG exports hit monthly and annual records last month, with the country exporting 8.6 million metric tons in December alone to total 88.9 million metric tons in 2023, up 14.7% compared to 2022.
According to US government data, Europe remained the foremost destination for US LNG exports last month, accounting for 5.43 million metric tons, or more than 60% of overall shipments. Nearly 70% of US LNG exports were destined for the region in November. The EU significantly increased its LNG imports last year, following the drop in pipeline gas flows from Russia, once its major supplier. This occurred amid Ukraine-related sanctions against Moscow and a sabotage of Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines in 2022, which made them inoperable.
Meanwhile, according to earlier reports, despite Brussels’ drive to rid itself of Russian energy, the EU has been boosting imports of Russian LNG. In November, the country’s exports to the bloc hit a historic high at 1.75 million metric tons. According to data from the Ministry of Economic Development, Russia’s overall fuel exports in 2023 stood at roughly 33.3 million metric tons.
Analysts link the increased shipments with the restart of Freeport LNG in Texas, whose production had been paused for several months following a June 2022 fire. The facility’s return to full service reportedly added 6 million metric tons to overall output. Another factor, according to experts who spoke to Reuters, was increased production at other LNG plants. For instance, Venture Global LNG’s Calcasieu Pass facility boosted output by 3 million metric tons year-on-year in 2023.
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