This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 22, 2003

DOE Report: U.S. LNG Imports Doubled in First Half of 2003

U.S. imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the first half of 2003 were more than double the amount imported in the first half of 2002, according to a new DOE report. DOE's quarterly report on natural gas imports and exports found that the United States imported a total of 201.5 billion cubic feet of LNG during the first half of 2003, compared to only 96.9 billion cubic feet during the first half of 2002. In fact, for the entire year of 2002, the United States imported only 228.7 billion cubic feet of LNG, an amount nearly equaled in the first half of 2003.

The surge in LNG imports reflects an increased emphasis on finding new ways to meet U.S. natural gas demands, which are beginning to outstrip domestic supplies. Although natural gas can be brought to the continental United States from Alaska, Canada, and Mexico via pipelines, overseas sources of natural gas must be converted to LNG for shipping to the United States. According to the DOE report, LNG imports are currently coming from Algeria, Nigeria, and Trinidad. See the report on DOE's Office of Fossil Energy Web site (PDF 91 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

Meanwhile, the major energy companies continue to announce agreements aimed at insuring a future supply of LNG to the United States. On October 14th, for instance, BG LNG Services, LLC-one of four current importers of U.S. LNG-signed a 20-year agreement to import LNG from Nigeria at a rate of about 117 billion cubic feet per year. Two days later, ExxonMobil Corporation announced a 25-year agreement to import LNG from Qatar to the United States. The $12-billion agreement will bring in about 730 billion cubic feet of LNG per year, starting in 2008 or 2009. See the press releases from BG Group and ExxonMobil.

While companies are lining up overseas LNG supplies, security and environmental concerns still make it difficult for LNG importers to build new U.S. LNG import terminals. For some companies, the answer is to build terminals in Mexico and import from there via pipelines. For others, like BHP Billiton, the answer is to build a floating terminal offshore. BHP Billiton's proposed Cabrillo Deepwater Port would be located 21 miles off the California shore and would convert the LNG into natural gas, which would then be piped to shore via an undersea pipeline. See the company's Cabrillo Deepwater Port Web site.