Is Europe the new frontier for US energy exports?
In the past five years, new techniques of oil and natural gas extraction in the United States have untapped large volumes of oil and natural gas and transformed the U.S. from an energy importer to a self-sufficient economy with an oil and gas surplus.
Some of this gas will be consumed domestically, some will be exported to Mexico by pipeline and some will be exported to other countries by sea.
Maritime exports of natural gas require a double infrastructure: liquefaction plants to reduce the volume of natural gas for storage in specific vessels and regasification terminals to transform the liquid natural gas (LNG) back to gas and distribute it through the pipeline system.
This year, exceptionally low gas prices have forced energy companies to reduce their profit expectations and scale down their projects. Only a small number of planned liquefaction plants are expected to be completed.
Project completion will depend on a variety of commercial and political factors:
LNG producers will need considerable financial strength to pay for the regulatory process required to obtain the licenses to export LNG.