LNG Exports: 'Not Huge, Not Soon,' but with geopolitical impact forecasts market analyst.
Ken Medlock, a Baker Institute energy fellow at Rice University in Houston, said the United States will be "lucky to see more than 1 Bcf/d" of exports 10 years from now. "I don't think it's going to be a huge number," he told Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI).
"Here's the deal, though, and this is what I think is the most important thing from a policy perspective and everything else: when you have that artery open so there's this opportunity, all you really need is just the threat of arbitrage to begin to see markets blink."
Linking U.S. gas markets with the world will cause Asian and European market players to take gas storage positions in the United States "because what you have when you have both import and export capability in the U.S. is a direct link to all the storage we have in this country," Medlock said. "Once that begins to happen, it creates not only spatial arbitrage opportunities, but intertemporal [opportunities]. So you can trade basically based on seasonal price movements. And that will inject a lot of liquidity into the global market.
Even if North America becomes a sort of gas storage lung, inhaling and exhaling with the seasons, don't look for long-held global LNG trading practices to crumble soon. That will take at least a decade, Medlock said. "It's not going to happen fast." One of the important things that has to happen in the Asian market is development of a continental pipeline system, particularly in China, Medlock told NGI.
To access more of NGI's interview with Ken Medlock, click here.