May 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission released a market intelligence briefing on the U.S. liquefied natural gas market. Two years ago, the United States transitioned from an importer of LNG to a net exporter.
All told, the LNG plants in operation or under construction represent about 13 percent of total gas production in the United States.
"Over $30 billion in construction capital has been invested by the two firms with operational LNG plants," Amir Zaidi, the director of the CFTC's office of market oversight, said in a statement. "Further, significant investments in support of these plants have been made in new natural gas pipeline assets."
The CFTC's report found that LNG is gaining a bigger market footprint and its U.S. LNG exports that look to have the most rapid growth rate and the most competitive price. That growth means North America broke a land lock to gain a position in the global market.
Federal data show U.S. LNG exports are on the rise. Six vessels with a combined carrying capacity of 21 billion cubic feet left U.S. ports in the week ending May 9. Four of those left the Sabine Pass terminal, operated in Louisiana by Cheniere Energy, and two left the Cove Point terminal, operated by Dominion Energy in Maryland.
For new capacity, Alaska's government and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. have an agreement with Chinese lenders and China Petrochemical Corp., or Sinopec, to advance discussions on the LNG potential in Alaska.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported total LNG exports quadrupled in 2017 from the previous year. Four more terminals are expected online within the next two years, boosting export capacity from 1.94 billion cubic feet per day last year to 9.6 billion cubic feet per day.
LNG from the United States is reaching the Asian and European markets. The National Defense Authorization Act said U.S. efforts should promote energy security in Europe, stating Russia uses energy "as a weapon to coerce, intimidate and influence" countries in the region.