LONDON Nov 13 The United States is bringing
forward by several years the date at which it expects to become
a net exporter of natural gas, the country's top energy adviser
said on Tuesday in the latest boost for the government's energy
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2012 Annual
Energy Outlook (AEO) published this summer said exports would
overtake imports in 2022. A revision due out in a few weeks will
bring that date forward to the "late teens" of the century - as
little as four or five years from now, EIA Administrator Adam
Sieminski told Reuters in an interview.
He cited continued "robust" domestic production - despite
the low prices that are causing pain to many domestic producers.
Lower pipeline imports from Canada, a further slowing of
liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, and full export capacity at
the country's only licensed LNG export terminal at Sabine Pass
in Louisiana complete the picture.
"The AEO 2013 reference case is going to be published in
December and that is going to move that 2022 date in. It'll be
in the late teens. So the U.S. is going to be a net exporter
sooner than 2022," he said.
Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass will not be ready to
export until 2016, and there is political opposition to plans
for further LNG export terminals. Most of the 11 proposed are,
like Sabine Pass, refitted former import facilities that were
left high and dry by the United States' shale gas revolution.
Opposition to more licences is mainly based on fears that
exports could deprive the country of the competitive advantage
bestowed on it by cheap gas, but Sieminski said "this (the new
prediction) doesn't require another string of export terminals
to be approved".
There has been a dramatic turnaround in the U.S. natural gas
market, which four years ago was still gearing up to be a major
Record increases in domestic gas output thanks to hydraulic
fracturing ("fracking") and horizontal drilling of shale
formations and other so-called "unconventional" gas resources
have pushed prices way below global levels and evaporated import
Those new techniques now deliver far cheaper supplies into
the home market and have pushed U.S. gas production to record
An earlier date for self-sufficiency and the prospect of
cheap U.S. LNG exports on the world market will also send a
shiver down the spine of companies that have invested heavily in
LNG export facilities in other parts of the world.
Much of the LNG gas now coming onstream that was originally
earmarked for the United States has been mopped up by burgeoning
Asia demand. But by the end of the decade, when the U.S. could
become an exporter, more LNG from projects being built outside
the country now will be coming onto the global market.
Sieminski was speaking just a day after International Energy
Agency (IEA) said the same fracking and horizontal drilling
techniques being applied to crude oil would allow the United
States to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top
oil producer by 2017 and become almost self sufficient in liquid
energy (mostly crude oil) by 2035.
He said that prediction was "a bit of a stretch" but noted
that by that date as little as 15 percent of U.S. petroleum
consumption could be dependent on imports anyway.
"That's less than 3 million barrels a day, and almost all of
that would be coming from Canada, and so if you included Mexico
in this you'd have North American oil independence even sooner,"
he said on the sidelines of the Oil and Money Conference in
(Additional reporting by Ed McAllister in New York; Editing by