In the summer of 2008, two natural gas import terminals opened along the U.S. Gulf Coast: one in Freeport, Tex., and the other about 140 miles northeast near the mouth of the Sabine River in Louisiana. The projects signaled America’s growing dependence on foreign energy. Prices had more than doubled over the previous year: More imports from places such as Qatar and Yemen seemed like the only option.
Within a year, the U.S. was swimming in abundant, cheap natural gas as horizontal drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing unlocked a century’s worth of supply from shale formations in Texas, Pennsylvania, and North Dakota. Today, both terminals are being turned into export facilities.