26 July 2012 – The discovery of new natural gas reserves and the increased exploitation of existing ones will cause a shift in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) landscape, with north America and east Africa set to emerge as some of the world’s significant new exporters, predicts the latest report by natural resources expert GBI Research.

The shale gas production boom experienced by the US over the last few years has turned it from a country with plans to import LNG as recently as five years ago, to one hoping to begin exports by 2016. Several US companies will set up new export terminals over the next few years, or convert existing import sites. The prospect of sending LNG abroad has ignited fierce debate across the country, with some manufacturers, consumers and even lawmakers voicing opposition. Contesting arguments include a possible increase in domestic gas prices, environmental pollution and the weakening of national energy security.

These concerns, however, are unlikely to derail US liquefaction projects, especially as exports will help boost the US economy and create jobs at a time when the effects of the global financial crisis are still being felt. GBI also expects east Africa to rise to LNG prominence by the end of the current decade. Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania are the countries to look out for thanks to significant discoveries of natural gas reserves.

Mozambique in particular has the potential to become one of the leading exporters of LNG by 2020. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Eni SpA have already discovered substantial natural gas reserves in Mozambique, and could have 30 million metric tonnes per annum (MMtpa) of export capacity by 2020. Mozambique faces different challenges on the path to reaching its LNG export potential. The country currently suffers from high levels of corruption and is still recovering from a civil war that ended in 1992. Limited local industry and a poor infrastructure represent significant challenges and would make large-scale LNG export developments extremely costly.