Opinion: The role of US LNG globally cannot be understated

Fri, January 26, 2024

The Biden administration’s proposed restrictions on LNG exports, alongside the continually delayed permitting processes, will have far-reaching consequences both on our strategic allies’ national security and American jobs and economic opportunities. 

We have all witnessed over the last several years how U.S. natural gas production has helped combat the outsized influence of Russia across the EU. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European imports of U.S. LNG rose 141% in 2022, with France, the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands importing 74% of the United States’ LNG exports in 2022. Recognizing the rising demand, U.S. natural gas operators scaled domestic production—successfully outpacing Qatar and Australia—to lead the world in 2023 LNG exports. Last year, the U.S. produced and exported over 88 million metric tons of LNG, a 14.7% increase compared to 2022. According to the most recent data, Europe remained the largest buyer of U.S. LNG, accounting for 68% of U.S. LNG exports in December 2023. 

With Russian analysts claiming Russia will successfully produce 200 million tons of LNG annually and lead the world in LNG exports in the next 5 to 10 years, it is vital that U.S. natural gas producers are able to continue scaling energy output to lessen global dependence on adversarial nations. 

Additionally, the Gaza conflict’s expansion across the Middle East has further destabilized global energy markets. On January 16, tension across the Red Sea forced three Qatari LNG tankers, delivering LNG to Europe, to take a 9-day longer route. At Davos, Qatar’s Finance Minister Ali Al Kuwari warned that Middle East economies, specifically their LNG shipments, will continue to be impacted as conflict in the region persists. 

Combined, these geopolitical considerations further outline the importance of American natural gas production and LNG exports for global energy security. Beyond these realities, reducing U.S. LNG exports will disproportionately impact communities responsible for U.S. energy production, namely within Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Appalachia. Oil and natural gas job opportunities across the value chain provide good-paying, family-sustaining jobs for millions of Americans. In fact, President Biden’s current energy pledges to Europe are projected to produce $63 billion in capital expenditures, contribute $46 billion in GDP growth, and support 71,500 jobs annually from 2025-2030. This is yet another example of conflicted, yet intentional, federal energy policy designed to appease entities that oppose the U.S. oil and natural gas industry. 

American producers are successfully meeting demand challenges, all while ensuring affordable energy prices for domestic consumers. As 2023 LNG exports reached record highs, U.S. natural gas prices declined 62%, underscoring the industry’s ability to effectively support growing global natural gas demand and maintain domestic supply—a fact that a recent study further supported, noting that U.S. natural gas production will be able to “satisfy both growing domestic consumption and export demand at relatively low prices.” 

Between 2012-2022, domestic natural gas demand rose 43%, or 34.5 bcf/d, and gulf coast demand grew 116%, or 16 bcf/d. During this time, Texas and Louisiana increased natural gas output and developed new LNG export terminals, demonstrating gulf coast producers’ ability to rapidly scale LNG production. S&P Global Commodity Insights global strategy lead, Michael Stoppard, outlined that “we expect global LNG demand to grow from 399 million tons in 2022 to 627 million tons by 2035, more than a 50 percent increase.” 

Without the Biden administration’s interference, U.S. LNG export capacity is set to double through 2027, with LNG terminals in Port Arthur, Rio Grande, Golden Pass, Sabine Pass, Freeport, Corpus Christi, Plaquemines, Cameron, and Calcasieu Pass accounting for a majority of this growth. These projects will continue to uplift and create thousands of jobs across Texas and Louisiana for decades to come.

Texas’ natural gas industry is a cornerstone of American energy and national security, and our state’s operators are responsible for meeting growing demand across the globe. As we continue to invest in energy infrastructure to meet this challenge, it is essential that policies and regulations support this growth. The Gulf Coast states’ investments in natural gas production and LNG export terminals over the past several years have proven the importance of the U.S. natural gas industry by stabilizing global energy markets during geopolitical uncertainties and insulating American consumers from rising energy costs. Federal, state, and local lawmakers should celebrate these achievements, rather than render them unattainable in the future.