In another step toward boosting U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, the Department of Energy (DOE) approved short-term exports of the super-chilled fuel to nonfree trade agreement (FTA) countries from Cheniere Energy Corp.’s Corpus Christi Liquefaction Project.

In an order issued Friday, DOE authorized initial commissioning 2.1 Bcf/d of volumes under short-term contracts from Corpus Christi LNG. DOE issued a similar order authorizing short-term exports from Corpus Christi LNG to FTA countries in September.

The short-term authorization is not additive to Corpus Christi LNG’s existing long-term export approvals. Rather, it allows exports under short-term contracts and initial commissioning volumes from the facility, DOE said.

The DOE’s two-year export term takes effect by either Dec. 31 or whenever the first export occurs.

“For the first time in 60 years, the United States is now the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, and we are now exporting natural gas to 30 nations on five continents,” DOE Secretary Rick Perry said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October granted a request for the Corpus project to introduce refrigerants into Train 1.

Since domestic LNG exports began in 2016, more than 1.5 Tcf has been exported to Mexico, as well as Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean, according to DOE.

To date, the agency has approved 21.35 Bcf/d of long-term gas exports to any country in the world not prohibited by U.S. law or policy. The Corpus project joins Cheniere’s Sabine Pass in Louisiana and the Dominion Energy Cove Point project in Maryland, which have a combined export capacity of about 3.5 Bcf/d.

Cheniere, which in 2016 began the first of exports from Sabine Pass, is working on Train 5. Sabine Pass feed gas flows hit an all-time high on Oct. 24 at 3.5 Bcf/d, a sign of commissioning at the facility, according to global consulting firm Energy Aspects.

Corpus Christi LNG is one of four additional large-scale LNG export projects expected to be completed over the next two years, which, once completed, would boost export capacity to about 11 Bcf/d, according to DOE. There are also a dozen large-scale export projects under review that would provide more than 20 Bcf/d of additional export capacity, if approved and constructed.

U.S. LNG exports through the first half of 2018 rose 58% compared with the same period in 2017, averaging 2.72 Bcf/d, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Overall, net natural gas exports are expected to average 2.0 Bcf/d in 2018 and 5.8 Bcf/d in 2019, EIA said.