The Big Bang
June 2019
The last five years have seen an explosion of LNG—thankfully, in the metaphorical sense. The world has seen both existing and planned LNG production capacity soar, and very little of it has actually exploded: something we can be very thankful of.

(As an aside: it is generally very difficult to make LNG explode. LNG itself isn’t flammable, so in order to pose a fire risk you have to expose LNG to the open air and allow vapour to form—something that, thanks to triple-layered containment on most LNG tankers, is not likely to happen. Even then, it ends up being difficult to ignite and virtually impossible to explode in an open environment. Further, some studies have even cast doubt upon the risks of a contained and heated LNG tank exploding, indicating that it is more difficult than previously thought to raise the pressure in an LNG vessel to levels sufficient to cause an explosion. Regardless, AME obviously does not condone the use of fire near any LNG, contained or otherwise, that you may have lying around your home or place of work.)

Much of this metaphorical explosion has occurred in Australia, but with skyrocketing production of gas, the US is now looking to take a bigger slice of the global LNG export pie. With more than 35 proposed LNG export projects, the US has positioned itself to become the second- or third-largest exporter of LNG by 2030—a long way up from its current position outside the top ten. Canada is looking at increasing its capacity too, as it is no longer able to export its excess gas to the US.

Looking at it through the eyes of companies like Sempra Energy—which has five separate LNG projects under development throughout the continent—North America is full of gas ready to be unleashed on the world, and only a lack of capacity is holding things back.  

Sempra’s five projects—Cameron phases 1 and 2 in Louisiana, Port Arthur in Texas and Costa Azul phases 1 and 2 in Baja California in Mexico—total around 45Mtpa of export capacity, or roughly 6 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. If all built, this could place it as the second-largest LNG exporter on the continent, second to (obviously) the largest: Cheniere Energy.

Cheniere Energy already has a hefty LNG portfolio, with its Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi LNG terminals set to see expansions that would bring the company a total capacity of almost 50Mtpa—and enough land acquired at both sites to potentially double their total capacity. The company’s plans see most of this capacity coming online in or before 2020, launching it into the top five global exporters of LNG.