Will US LNG stampede lead to costly overbuild?
The US’ emergence as the world’s largest LNG producer is good news for gas-hungry Europe, but the project pipeline raises questions about how much capacity will be needed
The US was shaping up to become the world’s largest LNG producer last year, until an explosion in June put its second-largest liquefaction plant out of action. With the 15mn t/yr Freeport LNG having resumed production early this year—amid a welter of regulatory oversight and intervention—2023 now looks like the year in which the US will lift the trophy. It certainly has the capacity to do so. Since the first LNG cargo from the Lower 48 states left Houston-headquartered Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass project in 2016, another six projects have started up (see Fig.1). Together, they give the US an aggregate nameplate capacity of 91.3mn t/yr, significantly more than Qatar’s 77.4mn t/yr and just a