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Snow-covered transfer lines are seen at the Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas terminal in Lusby, Md., on March 18, 2014.

Gary Cameron/Reuters

The first export of natural gas from the U.S. East Coast has set sail.

Dominion Energy Inc.’s Cove Point terminal in Maryland shipped its first commercial cargo of liquefied natural gas Monday, officially bringing the total number of U.S. exporters of the super-chilled fuel to two. The company last week said the facility was finally poised to send gas under long-term contracts after more than three years of construction, joining Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass terminal.

Cove Point’s startup is accelerating America’s emergence as an LNG powerhouse that’s expected to challenge Australia and Qatar for worldwide dominance in the next five years. Three more export terminals may open on the Gulf Coast by 2019.

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While Cove Point’s East Coast location could give it an edge in competition for exports to Europe, the first ship may be headed to Asia. The tanker Adam LNG left Cove Point early Monday, bound for the Suez Canal, according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

Dominion has agreements to sell gas to GAIL India Ltd. and a joint venture of Sumitomo Corp. and Tokyo Gas Co., but LNG cargoes are sometimes resold in transit.

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