In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2023 (AEO2023), the organization predicts that natural gas production will likely increase through 2050, which would be “largely driven” by U.S. Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) exports. In the AEO2023 reference case, which represents a baseline prediction, LNG exports are projected to grow by 152 percent between 2022 and 2050, with natural gas production increasing 15 percent as well.
The EIA’s analysis is a significant forecast for the U.S. energy sector—especially natural gas. The Russian invasion of Ukraine splintered global energy markets, leaving Europe’s energy security in a vacuum and increasingly fragile. The U.S. has stepped in, exporting record amounts of our liquid natural gas to the continent. However, as the war continues and Europe recovers from more than a year of energy volatility, we must continue to support our allies with cheap and reliable energy. Continuing to do so will require additional infrastructure.
With AEO2023’s forecast that LNG exports will increase over the next two to three decades, the ability to get that energy to market efficiently will need to be addressed. The Gulf Coast region will be particularly impacted as production increases in the Permian Basin, for example, necessitates comparative infrastructure growth in the same region. LNG export capacity grew in 2022 as three facilities near the Gulf Coast began construction, but more infrastructure will be needed to fully utilize the increase in production. Energy Transfer’s Lake Charles LNG facility is one example of a project that will bring additional capacity to the area, creating upwards of 5,000 construction jobs and 200 full-time positions.
As the U.S. prepares to see an increase in production and exportation of natural gas, decision makers must recognize the potential for transportation constraints and address those accordingly.