Global demand for natural gas is expected to make the hydrocarbon the world’s main source of fuel in the next decade. As a result, countries are looking to capitalise on the increasingly gas-focussed energy industry, building new facilities and applying innovative technologies to manage the growth.
One innovation is Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) – an industry that began to thrive in the US in February 2016 and has since expanded across the globe. LNG production grew by 29 million tonnes in 2017 alone. Since its introduction the world’s biggest LNG producers have been vying for control of the market – with the United States looking likely to take the lead.
The United States is currently the biggest natural gas producer in the world. However, with the country exporting 1.94 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, it lags behind Qatar – the world’s largest LNG exporter.
The first shipment of US LNG left in 2016 and since then the US has shipped to Europe, Asia and South America. Mexico is the country’s main importer accounting for 20 per cent of all US LNG exports, with South Korea a close second at 19 per cent.
With Qatar and Russia firmly in the lead and countries such as Mexico looking to produce their own gas, the US is starting to source new buyers that could help it increase its LNG exports. Opportunities exist in Russia and Europe, while the US is also looking to build one or more US West Coast LNG export facilities to increase production for Asian markets.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects US gas production will grow at nearly twice the rate of US demand, leaving a large surplus for export. Domestic output is also expected to increase another 70 per cent from today.
The coming year however could be a challenging start for the US. There is a current lack of tankers to transport LNG, coupled with rising freight costs for US LNG exports. Asia could also see a rise in temperatures due to a recent warming trend, meaning need for US LNG would be lower this winter.
The new market
To ensure there is enough demand for domestic production, the US is looking East. To meet tough air quality targets, China launched a campaign in October 2017 aimed at curbing industrial output, restricting traffic and cutting coal use in 28 northern cities known for their heavy smog. LNG demand in Asia is expected to grow by 70 per cent by 2030 as a result – more than enough to help the US make the most of its exports. Growing demand coupled with rising production ability will set up the US for an upwards trend in LNG exports in the next two decades.
Increasing LNG exports will require more gas production – which could lead to more flaring. To ensure flaring always occurs at the right levels, operators require accurate measurement technology. Fluenta’s FGM 160 Flare Gas Meter uses ultrasonic technology to provide accurate flare gas measurement, enabling operators to better track flaring for clear and accurate reporting.
For more information on Fluenta’s FGM 160 Flare Gas Meter, click here.