Gas Under Pressure

The United States is Ready to Export LNG, But Does the World Want It?

The Isla Bella, the first container ship to be powered by liquid natural gas, awaits launching during a nighttime ceremony at General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, California April 18, 2015.  Earnie Grafton / Reuters

In less than a week, the United States will be able to send liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its shale reserves to any port around the world. The first U.S. LNG shipments could go anywhere from Chile’s Quintero to Guangzhou in Guangdong, China—or both. After all, the United States has the supplies to become the world’s third-largest LNG exporter after Australia and Qatar. That is, of course, if the U.S. LNG sector can find a way to sell its product.

U.S. companies have sold roughly 58 million tons of LNG under long-term contracts out of five facilities currently under construction in Louisiana, Maryland, and Texas. These facilities, experts suggest, will be able to sufficiently supply the combined LNG markets of Europe and South America. But flexible purchasing agreements, eroding prices, and weakened demand for LNG could make the United States shale market less attractive than

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