The United States is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas, producing more than 75 billion cubic feet each day, and is poised to become the leading exporter as well. Qatar, which has recently surpassed Indonesia as the world’s leading supplier, is currently the world’s number one exporter. The country has estimated natural gas reserves totalling 896 trillion ft³ which is about 14% of the world’s total reserve. Qatar’s 2009 exports reached 1.8 trillion cubic feet. There is a good chance that American exports will be on par with Qatar’s within this decade, according to a statement made by Energy Secretary Ernest Moritz made earlier this year.
America will face competition in the $120 billion per year global natural gas market. Australia has been increasing its gas consumption over the last several months and is currently building seven export terminals. And Asian investors are interested in several reserves which have been discovered offshore of eastern Africa. However, poor infrastructure and political upheaval are currently preventing an all-out boom in African exports. There are also other uncertainties regarding Asian markets. The extent to which Asian countries are willing to move away from coal as a means of electricity production is unclear. Another key factor would be whether the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Paris in late 2015 reaches a global agreement on reducing CO2 emissions. Alternative energy sources are also expected to compete with natural gas.
Proponents of natural gas exportation have faced opposition from environmental groups even though natural gas is a relatively clean-burning alternative to coal. Some economic analysts also argue that increased exports could increase prices paid by domestic businesses and home consumers. But the Obama administration has pointed out that increased exports could add up to 65,000 jobs.