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The US: A gas market turned on its head

US LNG-import terminals are signing agreements to export North American gas, but many variables affect the economics of these potentially risky ventures

Within nine months, the idea of exporting gas from the US Lower 48 as LNG went from cocktail-hour hypothetical to front-page news with extraordinary alacrity. Two Gulf coast regasification terminals – Sabine Pass and Freeport – have announced plans to export LNG from the US, while other companies are conducting feasibility studies to understand the conditions under which exports may be profitable. In its 2000 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), the US government agency forecast LNG imports to be flat over a 20-year period, at around 0.9bn cubic feet a day (cf/d). LNG was not on the radar. Indifference soon gave way to panic. By 2005, the EIA expected the US would become the world's largest LNG im

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