Liquefied natural gas could become the largest source of imported gas in the United States after 2010, shouldering aside Canadian supplies, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The EIA’s annual international energy outlook predicts that three new receiving terminals under construction in the Gulf of Mexico in addition to the five currently operating will boost LNG import capacity to 3.6 trillion cubic feet a year from the current 1.6 tcf on the way to forecast peak capacity of 5.9 tcf by 2030, of which 4.4 tcf will actually be imports.
Canadian exports in the past two years were 3.67 tcf and 3.6 tcf and, based on the latest figures available, posted five successive monthly declines by March.
The EIA said the expansion of U.S. LNG import capacity is “expected to be strong through 2015 and then to slow as high gas prices begin to slow the growth of domestic consumption.”
The EIA noted that LNG imports into Canada for regasification and onward shipment to the U.S. will effectively add to Canadian exports.
A new report by Cambridge Energy Research Associates estimated LNG could meet 15 percent of world demand by 2012 with supply capacity growing by 60 percent over the next six years.
The EIA said Canada exported 50 percent of its gas to the U.S. in 2003, but by 2030 will have only 15 percent available for U.S. consumption, although unconventional production from Western Canada and conventional gas from the Mackenzie Delta and Eastern Canada should reverse a decline in output after 2020.