LNG is a recently developing market. But it is not new. It actually dates back to the early 19th century with a number of fabulously prominent scientists doing experiments and developing processes for cooling and liquefying natural gas including Michael Faraday, James Joule, and William Thomson (a.k.a. Lord Kelvin).
It wasn't until 1912 that the first LNG plant was built in West Virginia. Then in 1941 came the first U.S. LNG production and regasification facilities in Ohio.
Still, there was a problem for the LNG market: There was little need for liquefied natural gas domestically, and the U.S. didn't produce enough to make it a major export.
Pipelines had already been in use for decades by then to transport dry natural gas domestically and were simply a cheaper method of distribution. Meanwhile, the demand for natural gas rapidly rose during the post-war era, straining domestic supplies.
Fast-forward to 2005...
The technology for natural gas liquefaction and regasification has dramatically advanced. And the fuse for the LNG market is lit with the signing of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This act directed the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior to begin a program to lease federal land for commercial oil shale production. From there, the shale boom began.
In addition to turning the U.S. back into the world's largest oil producer, the shale boom also uncovered a massive previously untapped reserve of natural gas... so much, in fact, that LNG could become a significant export market.
And it has.
The very first shipment of U.S. LNG from the Lower 48 took place in February 2016. By July 2019, LNG exports averaged 6 billion cubic feet per day — 7% of the total U.S. dry natural gas production.