HOUSTON, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The United States is projected to become the third-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in the world by 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Tuesday.
As U.S. export capacity continues to increase, its exports of LNG will surpass Malaysia, and remain only behind Australia and Qatar two years later.
U.S. exports of LNG reached 1.94 billion cubic feet per day in 2017, up from 0.5 billion cubic feet per day in 2016.
As LNG exports increased, shipments went to more destinations. U.S. LNG exports in 2017, all of which originated from Louisiana's Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal, reached 25 countries.
About 53 percent of U.S. LNG exports in 2017 were shipped to three countries: Mexico, South Korea, and China. Mexico received the largest amount of U.S. LNG exports, at 20 percent of the 2017 total.
Exports to China made up 15 percent of total U.S. LNG exports, less than the exports to South Korea at 18 percent.
These exports were sold mostly on a spot basis, with volumes in October, November, and December increasing as record-high LNG demand prompted China to seek additional LNG on the global spot market to supplement contracted volumes.
After countries in Asia and North America (Mexico), countries in Europe collectively accounted for the third-largest share of U.S. LNG exports. LNG imports by several European countries increased in 2017, driven by increased demand primarily from the power generation sector.
The increase in LNG exports over the past two years is the result of the continuing expansion of U.S. LNG export capacity. Two LNG projects-Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Cove Point in Maryland-have come online since 2016.
Four more projects are scheduled to come online in the next two years in states of Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.