Qatar reclaimed the crown as the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter from the U.S. just as the end of winter lowered demand for the heating fuel in the northern hemisphere.
April exports of the superchilled fuel from Qatar surpassed 7.5 million metric tons, edging out the U.S., according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Maintenance at Qatargas reduced the Middle Eastern nation’s exports a month earlier.
During the winter months, low temperatures, combined with Europe’s desire to cut dependence on Russian energy, drove up the demand for natural gas and prices of the fuel.
Once winter ended, some U.S. export terminals have used the period of softer demand and lower prices to undergo maintenance, which has lowered the U.S. production.
A shale gas revolution, coupled with billions of dollars of investments in liquefaction facilities, transformed the U.S. from a net LNG importer to a top exporter in less than a decade.
Looking ahead, the U.S. and Qatar are expected to engage in a two-horse race for dominance in the global LNG market. Once the Calcasieu Pass export terminal in Louisiana is complete later this year, the U.S. is expected to reach a peak LNG production capacity of 13.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Meanwhile, Qatar is planning a gargantuan export project that will come online in the late 2020s, which could cement the Middle Eastern nation as the top supplier of LNG fuel.