U.S. exports of LNG continued to grow in 2020, averaging 6.6 billion ft3/d on an annual basis, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA)Natural Gas Monthly. LNG exports increased 1.6 billion ft3/d, or 32%, compared with 2019 levels. US LNG exports were relatively high from January through May. In the summer months, they declined to record lows following dropping international natural gas and LNG prices. By October, US LNG exports started to increase again, despite brief interruptions caused by Hurricanes Laura and Delta. In November and December 2020, US LNG exports reached all-time highs. US LNG was exported to 37 countries, a record number, and Asia overtook Europe to become the main export destination in 2020.
According to EIA, LNG exports to Asia increased 67% in 2020, accounting for almost half, or 3.1 billion ft3/d, of all US LNG exports.
India increased imports of US LNG by an average of 0.1 billion ft3/d, especially in the spring and summer when LNG prices were at record lows. US LNG exports to Japan grew by 0.2 billion ft3/d, primarily in 4Q20 because of seasonal winter demand and new long-term contracts.
US LNG exports to Europe averaged 2.5 billion ft3/d, an increase of 0.6 billion ft3/d compared with 2019. Europe had been the main destination for US LNG exports in 2019, accounting for 39% of US LNG exports. In 2020, US LNG exports to Turkey increased by 0.3 billion ft3/d and to the UK, Spain, Greece, and Lithuania by 0.1 billion ft3/d each, EIA states.
US LNG exports to several countries in Latin America (Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico) and the Middle East (Jordan and the United Arab Emirates) declined by a combined 0.5 billion ft3/d in 2020 compared with 2019. US LNG exports to Mexico declined by 0.3 billion ft3/d because of COVID-19 mitigation efforts that reduced demand for natural gas. Growing US exports by pipeline to Mexico also displaced more expensive LNG imports.