Cheniere Energy Inc., the largest US exporter of liquefied natural gas, is preparing to add shipping capacity at its Louisiana terminal that will help it eke out more supplies to gas-starved European customers.
The company’s Sabine Pass facility is poised to become the first US LNG terminal with three operational loading docks. Houston-based Cheniere already made a small piece of history earlier this month when three LNG tankers — Aristarchos, Castillo de Merida and Maria Energy — were docked side-by-side.
Although Sabine Pass’s new berth is still in the commissioning phase and needs approval from federal regulators before it can go into commercial service, its equipment can be tested and load LNG cargoes that are then sold on the global spot market.
Any marginal addition export capability is welcome news for Europe as it struggles to replace Russian supplies following the invasion of Ukraine. US export capacity won’t expand significantly until new, multibilion-dollar terminal are completed. The Aristarchos, which was the first tanker to dock at Sabine Pass’s third berth, arrived in Montoir, France, on Sept. 23, and is already heading back across the Atlantic Ocean toward the US, shipping records compiled by Bloomberg show.
While three tankers can now be docked side-by-side at Sabine Pass, they won’t be loading simultaneously because of safety and other operational considerations. Still, the third berth improves flexibility and efficiency for customers, said Florian Pintgen, vice president of commercial operations at Cheniere. Triple dockings typically allow one ship to finish loading and get ready to leave while the second is in the middle of loading and the third has just arrived, he said.