Several years ago, EIA expected LNG to make up 20% of U.S. gas supplies by 2025. But that forecast has been halved, and little LNG is being delivered.
Terminals are at 50% capacity and expected to remain there for several years, partly because high building costs have discouraged construction of overseas liquefaction facilities, Ineson says. Also, producers are shipping most LNG to Asia and Europe, where customers are paying up to double U.S. rates.
The situation can partly be blamed on the domestic plenty. Abundant U.S. supplies should continue to temper prices and make it tough to attract LNG imports, says analyst Bob Linden of Pace Energy.
The low prices are also deterring energy giants from planning enough LNG production plants overseas, Ineson says. That could lead to a crunch, and higher prices, by 2013, when U.S. thirst for natural gas is likely to outpace domestic stock and there won't be enough LNG to bridge the gap.
"The surprise is that LNG is not turning out to be as big as we expected," Ineson says. "But domestic supply is turning out to be better."