"We are far from a global supply glut," said Bordoff, a former White House aide on energy policy. "The LNG market will loosen as new projects come online in a few years, and we will need that increased capacity to meet rapidly rising demand in Asian markets that are thirsty for more LNG."
One of those critical Asian markets is Japan, currently the world's largest natural gas importer, which brought in more than 7 million tons of the fuel in April. In the aftermath of a crippling nuclear disaster, the world's third-largest economy is heavily reliant on energy imports—a situation that some observers say could play to the U.S.'s advantage.
"There's still huge demand for natural gas in Asia, primarily driven by the Japanese shutdown of nuclear plants," said John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute. "With Germany shutting down their nuclear plants, we can see more demand" even as countries manufacture more supply, he said.
Still, "outside the U.S., production is not likely to move as fast for a couple reasons," Felmy added. That is because the laws that govern resource development in other countries are far more restrictive than in the United States.
The U.S. has been slow to export its natural gas bounty, but it could become a natgas powerhouse once exporting takes flight. There are currently 19 export applications awaiting government approval.
In the future, "there will be more competition among new LNG projects to capture contracts in growing markets given how much new LNG supply is currently being planned in North America, Australia and East Africa," said Columbia's Bordoff.
"That is why it is important that [the Department of Energy] move expeditiously through the pending LNG export permit applications to avoid the possibility that U.S. projects miss the window to capture long-term contracts overseas," he added.