A ‘Historic Moment’ for U.S. Natural Gas

For the fifth straight year, the United States is the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas, the Energy Information Administration reported this month. Since 2009, when U.S. natural gas production surpassed Russia – led principally by Pennsylvania shale development – America has maintained its standing as the global natural gas production leader.

(EIA, 6/7/17)

This abundant and growing supply of affordable natural gas is bringing increased opportunities at home and abroad for energy security and improved quality of life. A recent Atlantic Council report laid out those benefits in examining how exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas are setting the stage for stronger economic growth and geopolitical stability:

“The U.S. shale revolution is one of the biggest stories in the history of petroleum development and continues to generate immense economic benefits to the U.S. economy, including low-cost supply to industry and manufacturing sectors, infrastructure development, job growth, and low prices for consumers,” the report’s author wrote. “It also contributes to U.S. geopolitical, diplomatic, and economic influence in global markets and improves energy security and flexibility for markets and consumers.”

More key findings from the Atlantic Council report include:

  • “Despite the current low-price environment, long-term demand is strong and U.S. LNG exports will grow as gas production expands and costs stay low.”
  • “Geopolitically, US LNG exports will help integrate markets, diversify supplies, and enhance US and global energy security by adding to the flexibility and connectivity of global gas markets.”
  • “Increased LNG availability has already contributed to flattening global gas prices and will continue to reduce gas market isolation. This will boost the United States’ economic influence in international markets and its geopolitical and diplomatic weight in international business and political dealings.”
  • “The capacity of U.S. LNG exports will continue to grow as construction proceeds on projects that already have reached final investment decisions.”
  • “U.S. LNG will compete with Russian pipeline gas in Europe. Competition between Russian gas and U.S. LNG in European and Asian markets is underway, as exporters in both countries seek to increase exports to both markets.”

Bolstering that final finding, the ability of U.S. natural gas to deliver global benefits was on display last week when Poland welcomed the first delivery of the American fuel to Eastern Europe. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo called the arrival of the U.S. tanker Clean Ocean “a historic moment that improves the region’s energy security,” The Associated Press reported.

In fact, “the region is trying to cut its reliance on Russia, which has occasionally used its gas exports to exert political pressure,” the AP reported.

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