U.S. shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose only slightly last month, showing they continue to be constrained by a June outage at the second largest U.S. exporter, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Thursday.
Freeport LNG’s shutdown following an explosion has cut monthly U.S. exports by about four cargoes, or 1.6 million tonnes. The company last week delayed a restart at the Quintana, Texas plant – originally planned for October – aiming to reach 85% of its full 15 million tonnes per annum capacity in late November, with full operations scheduled for March.
The export limits have contributed to sky-high global prices amid strong demand and a temporary halt of Russian gas shipments to Germany that began Aug. 31. LNG at the Dutch trading hub sold this week at around $77 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), more than double the price from February.
The United States exported 6.25 million tonnes of LNG last month, slightly above the 6.16 million tonnes of July but still below the pre-explosion levels, according to preliminary tanker tracking data on Eikon.
Exports to Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean declined in August, the data showed. Sales to Asia inched higher amid stronger demand in South Korea and Japan, which pushed Asian spot LNG prices to a record last week.
In Europe, gas markets in recent days took “a sigh of relief” after aggressive purchasing of LNG cargos and piped gas, which replenished stocks faster than the European Union’s targets, researcher Rystad Energy said in a note to clients. “Europe is in full bunkering mode and taking no chances with Russian supplies.”
But the United States, where natural gas prices at the Henry Hub have continued rising to touch nearly $10 per mmBtu in intraday trading, has been unable to keep ramping up LNG exports since the Freeport incident. U.S. prices settled at $9.127 per mmBtu on Wednesday.
Fewer shipments from the United States, which in the first half of this year became the world’s largest LNG exporter, have hit the Panama Canal, where LNG traffic fell 30% in the nine months through July, the waterway’s authority said last month.