Houston-based Waterborne Energy Inc., a consulting firm that tracks the liquefied natural gas sector of the industry, says major shifts are afoot in the global market this year. Worldwide, LNG production will jump nearly 30%; the stunning rise means international spot prices will drop and imports to the U.S. are likely to grow strongly. “While 2009 will start slow, we expect a 30% rise in total LNG production worldwide by year end," says Steve Johnson, president of Waterborne Energy. In the first half of the year, some 2.8 trillion cubic feet of new LNG production capacity will come on line. Johnson says that Asia and Europe will be unable to absorb the new gas, due to both restricted regasification capacity and lower power demand by slowing economies. Additionally, the number of LNG tankers is growing. Johnson notes that 45 new tankers are scheduled to be delivered in 2009, adding further transportation capacity. By late spring, excess LNG will begin to head toward the U.S. Facilities at Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Cove Point, Maryland, will be taking LNG cargoes by summer. Waterborne expects monthly U.S. imports to reach 40 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in July, and to rise to 64 Bcf by early winter. Imports of LNG into the U.S. averaged 950 million cubic feet per day in 2008, far below 2007’s record imports of 2.1 Bcf a day. By 2010, Waterborne expects that imports will rebound to levels above 2007. For a chart that shows 2007, 2008 and projected 2009 U.S. import volumes of LNG, click here: 2009lngimportforecast Chart is courtesy of Waterborne Energy Inc. Finally, on a purely personal note, happy holidays to all! --by Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor pwilliams@hartenergy.com