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EIA peers into future of global gas trade, sees 5.6 Tcf of US exports in 2040

U.S. LNG exports will be a cornerstone of the country'sstatus as an international energy player in the coming decades, the U.S. EnergyInformation Administration said.

"The United States becomes a net exporter of naturalgas in 2017, with net exports growing to 5.6 Tcf in 2040," the agencyconcluded in its International Energy Outlook 2016. "U.S. domesticallysourced exports of LNG … grow to 3.4 Tcf in 2030, with more than three-quartersoriginating in the Lower 48 states and the remainder in Alaska," under theoutlook's reference case.

The report, released May 11, also projected U.S. gasproduction to increase by 11.3 Tcf from 2012 to 2040.

While natural gas pipeline flows still account for most ofthe global natural gas trade through 2040, LNG trade is predicted to increasefrom 12 Tcf in 2012 to 29 Tcf in 2040. From 2012 to 2020, world LNG trade growsby nearly one-third under the forecast, with global liquefaction capacityreaching 57 Bcf/d in 2019. That expansion would be led by "capacityadditions in Australia and the United States that together account for 93% ofthe new liquefaction capacity coming online over the 2015-19 period."

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TheEIA report added that floatingregasification technology is here to stay, especially in emergingmarkets, "because of its flexible deployment capabilities, smallercapacities, quick startup, and relatively low costs as compared with the costsof onshore terminals."

EIAAdministrator Adam Sieminski pointed to oil markets in explaining howinternational LNG dynamics have evolved in recent years, affecting the newreport's projections.

"Inearly 2014 when oil prices were over $100 a barrel, natural gas in places likethe United States, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia … had a terrific pricingadvantage over oil that made a global LNG market look very attractive," hesaid May 11 during a question-and-answer session at the Center for Strategic andInternational Studies in Washington, D.C.