Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are expected to increase to 3.5 Tcf in 2029 and remain at that level through 2040 under a reference case used by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), but more than two dozen alternative scenarios put that number at anywhere from 0.8 Tcf to 6.7 Tcf, according to an EIA report released Wednesday.
The United States would become a net LNG exporter in all of the cases in EIA's final Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014), but "LNG export levels vary significantly by case," the agency said.
"In the High Oil Price case, where both global LNG demand and LNG prices are higher than in the Reference case, LNG exports increase to 6.7 Tcf in 2028 and remain at that level through 2040. Conversely, in the Low Oil Price case, gross LNG exports increase to only 0.8 Tcf in 2018, where they remain through most of the projection period."
The reference case has been available since EIA's initial release of the AEO2014 in December (see Daily GPI, Dec. 16, 2013). That report concluded that abundant supply and low prices would drive consumption of natural gas in the industrial and electric power sectors to new levels in 2040 as exports of U.S. gas via pipeline and in liquefied form grow as well.
In the 269-page report released Wednesday, EIA did not change any of its December projections, but included a series of reports issued over the past several weeks and 29 alternative cases. Also included in the final report is a review of federal and state legislation and final implementation of regulations as of the end of October 2013.
The reference case included in the December report assumed real gross domestic product growing at an average annual rate of 2.4% from 2012 to 2040 and crude oil prices rising to about $141/bbl (in 2012 dollars) in 2040.
Alternative cases used in the final AEO2014 assumed a wide variety of factors, including low and high economic growth, low and high oil prices, accelerated rates of retirement of coal-fired and nuclear facilities, and estimated ultimate recovery from shale gas, tight gas and tight oil wells both above and below that used in the reference case.