Updated Mar 20, 2018

America’s record-breaking natural gas export boom

Amy Harder, author of Generate

The United States is quickly ramping up its exports of liquefied natural gas to record levels.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: The increase, highlighted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration Monday, is a product of the fracking boom over the last decade that has made America the world’s largest producer of natural gas.

Its prices have fallen, sparking a boon for everyone from industrial giants to households that depend on natural gas for electricity, heating and other processes. It’s also raised concerns about fracking and climate change.

Gritty details:

  • This EIA chart shows exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) that turns the gaseous fuel into a liquid, which allows it to be transported all over the world without pipelines.
  • The export growth mirrors that of American oil, which was made possible when Congress lifted a 40-year-old ban on crude exports. There are laws restricting — but not banning altogether — exports of natural gas.
  • The Obama administration streamlined the federal approval process for these types of exports, and the Trump administration has largely continued that process.

Yes, but:

  • The meteoric growth in LNG exports is staggering, but natural gas exports via pipeline to Mexico and Canada are still much larger.
  • America’s growth in natural gas exports is huge, but the total amount of exports still pales in comparison to the world’s dominant gas exporters, including Russia, Qatar and Australia. America’s exports are measured in billions of cubic feet, whereas these other nations’ exports are measured in the trillions, indicating an order of magnitude of difference.

Go deeper: Energy pioneer tries to ride natural gas wave.

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