The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated in their latest Short-Term Energy Outlook released last week that the U.S. is now the largest global crude oil producer, likely surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.

In February, U.S. crude oil production exceeded that of Saudi Arabia for the first time in more than two decades. In June and August, the U.S. surpassed Russia in crude oil production for the first time since February 1999.

The Department of Energy (DOE) also announced that on Sept. 6 a short-term order was issued to Freeport LNG to export up to 2.14 billion cu. ft. per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG) over a two-year period to both free-trade and non-free trade agreement countries. This order authorizes Freeport LNG’s initial commissioning volumes and other exports pursuant to short-term contracts. Freeport LNG will be exporting the LNG from the Freeport LNG Liquefaction Project, which is currently under construction on Quintana Island near Freeport, Texas.

During this two-year authorization period, Freeport LNG will be able to export LNG to any country not prohibited by U.S. law or policy. The two-year export term will become effective on the date of the facility’s first export of LNG, currently projected to be in the third quarter of 2019.

The recent short-term authorization issued to Freeport LNG is not additive to any of the prior long-term export authorizations DOE has issued to the Freeport LNG project. Rather, the recent short-term order issued to Freeport LNG allows for additional flexibilities to export LNG pursuant to short-term contracts and for the initial commissioning volumes from the project. Freeport will also still be able to export LNG pursuant to its long-term authorizations from DOE.

Since exports of U.S. LNG began in 2016, over 1.3 trillion cu. ft. of U.S. natural gas has been exported. U.S. LNG has now landed in 30 different destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America, North America, and the Caribbean. EIA expects natural gas exports to average 9.9 Bcf/d in 2018, up 15% from 2017 levels. EIA also expects natural gas exports to rise by an additional 38% in 2019 to 13.7 Bcf/d.

To date, DOE has approved 21.35 Bcf/d of long-term exports of natural gas to any country in the world not prohibited by U.S. law or policy. There are currently two large-scale LNG export projects in operation — Sabine Pass and Dominion Cove Point — which have a combined export capacity of approximately 3.5 Bcf/d.

Freeport is one of four additional large-scale LNG export projects expected to be completed over the next two years. Once these four projects are completed, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to reach approximately 11 Bcf/d. There are over a dozen large-scale export projects under review that would provide over 20 Bcf/d of additional export capacity if approved.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.