LNG is not new. In fact, the liquefaction of natural gas dates back to 1820, when British scientist Michael Faraday first experimented and successfully chilled natural gas into a condensed, liquefied form. By 1912, the world’s first LNG plant was constructed in West Virginia.
The first LNG production and regasification facilities in the United States started operating in 1941 in Cleveland, Ohio. This facility is what is commonly called a peak shaving plant. There are now over one hundred such facilities in the U.S., located primarily near centers of high demand for natural gas, which liquefy gas during periods of low demand, and store it in an adjacent tank. When demand peaks, LNG is withdrawn from the tank, regasified, and put back into the pipeline, thereby enhancing the pipeline system’s ability to meet such periods of high demand.
In 1959, the Methane Pioneer carried LNG from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Canvey Island in England, demonstrating for the first time that LNG could be safely transported across the ocean. The world’s first commercial LNG production and export facility was constructed in Algeria, where exports began in 1964. Exports from the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, to Japan began in 1969, heralding the beginning of a successful trade relationship that helped grow the Asian natural gas market into the largest demand center in the world. Today Asia, led by the Japanese market, is the most frequent destination for international LNG shipments, and demand is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead.
The United States began importing LNG in the 1970s when four LNG terminals were constructed in Louisiana and along the East Coast.
By the mid-2000s, technological innovations, such as horizontal drilling, helped American natural gas producers unlock previously unreachable natural gas deposits, kicking off a “shale revolution” that has allowed the U.S. to surpass Russia and Iran to become the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas.
America’s newfound energy abundance has allowed for the possibility for surplus American natural gas to be shipped abroad to customers seeking a cost-effective, and environmentally friendly, alternative fuel to meet the growing demand for energy. In February 2016, after years of financing, construction, and regulatory approvals, the first shipment of LNG from the contiguous United States departed from Sabine Pass, Louisiana, bound for Brazil.
Domestically, LNG continues to serve as an economical and effective peaking fuel in New England.
U.S. LNG has been exported to over 25 countries and the list is growing. Follow along with our interactive map of U.S. LNG cargoes. By clicking on a country in green, you can find the date of the first export cargo, total volumes by year in Bcf, number of cargoes sent per year, which facility exported the gas, which vessel it was shipped on, and the date of every cargo sent out. This map is updated with data from DOE’s LNG Reports. Click the link above to learn more.