US LNG exports reached record annual highs, with analysts claiming this positioned the US to overtake Qatar and Australia to become the world’s largest exporter of LNG in 2023.

LNG exports globally rose by about 3% on-year to reach 412.44 mt in 2023, thanks largely to a ramp-up in US shipments that took the country to the top LNG exporter spot for the first time, surpassing rival exporting countries Australia and Qatar.

According to Kpler data, the US exported 86.15 mt of LNG last year, up by 10.04 mt, or about 13%, from 76.11 mt in 2022 and accounted for about 21% of global LNG exports last year. Its increased shipments constituted almost 80% of the 12.86 mt expansion in global LNG exports last year, amid limited new project start-ups and expansions.

The US sent 65%, or about 56.21 mt, of its LNG exports last year to Europe, up from 52.45 mt in 2022, reflecting the continent’s continued need for LNG to replace lost Russian pipeline gas, as data and analytics firm Kpler explains.  

Asia and Latin America received 27% and 7% of US LNG shipments, respectively, last year, while the destinations for the remaining 1% of shipments are still unclear.

The world’s LNG export leader in 2022, Australia, slipped to second place with a slight year-on-year increase of shipments of 0.37 mt, or 0.45%, to 80.9 mt, while Qatar took third place with a 0.5% on-year dip in exports to 79.81 mt, Kpler data show.

Exports from such other countries as Russia, Nigeria, Oman and Papua New Guinea also posted year-on-year declines but an increase in exports from Malaysia, Indonesia and Algeria helped to offset the lower shipments.

It is worth mentioning that the administration of President Joe Biden confirmed last month that it is launching a review of the U.S. approval process for new liquified natural gas (LNG) export permits to non-Free Trade Agreement Countries.

Final approvals of new LNG exports are being put on hold by the US government as it reviews climate and economic impacts.

As it was reported by Shipping Telegraph last month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will conduct a review that will look at the economic and environmental impacts of projects seeking approval to export LNG.

During this period, the Department of Energy will evaluate the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and climate change, said the White House.

As it is stated, this move will not impact US ability to supply its allies in Europe, Asia or other recipients of already authorized U.S. exports.