With FID imminent on three US Gulf Coast LNG projects, North America is set to lead an expected record year for LNG project sanctions. With at least two other Gulf Coast projects – Freeport Train 4 and possibly Driftwood LNG – also not far behind, the first half of 2019 will be an especially busy one for the US,

...said Alex Munton, principal analyst, Americas LNG, at Wood Mackenzie.

According to Woodmac analysis, the North America LNG market has sprung back to life following a lull in investment prior to 2018.

Particularly, six players, comprising Cheniere Marketing (CMI), Venture Global, Sempra, Tellurian, Freeport and Woodfibre, have all announced long-term agreements with offtakers since September 2018. In the same period, 13 million tonnes per annum (mmtpa) in sales were announced, totaling more than 20 mmtpa for the year.

2018 was a stellar year for sales of North America LNG, and US LNG in particular. Renewed confidence in the outlook for LNG, combined with the choice, flexibility and competitiveness the US market offers facilitated this surge in interest.

The construction and expansion of the three Gulf Coast LNG facilities, totaling up to 30 mmtpa of capacity, is also expected to inject around US$20 billion of investment in the region, according to Wood Mackenzie.

While the Gulf Coast remains the key growth region for North America LNG, projects in Canada and Mexico are also progressing and attracting interest. Additional west Canadian capacity could help further open Canadian supply to global markets, and we are now seeing momentum around Mexico as an alternative export route for US production,

...Mr. Munton added.

Additionally, Wood Mackenzie forecasts that Canada's Woodfibre LNG could reach FID in 2019, contingent on the execution of an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract. Mexico's Costa Azul Phase 1 LNG export terminal still needs to finalise an EPC contract, binding offtake agreements, permitting and financing arrangements. However, progress is being made and it too could reach FID in 2019.