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U.S. LNG exports flat despite Freeport LNG partial restart

U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) were flat last month at 6.84 million tonnes, shipping data showed on Thursday, even as a long-idled Texas processing facility began shipping the fuel during an ongoing restart.

Freeport LNG’s Texas plant, the second-largest LNG export facility in the United States, began resuming some processing and export operations in February following an eight-month outage caused by a fire.

Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Thursday that the plant is on track to pull in about 1.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of natural gas from pipelines, a sign it likely started the second of its three liquefaction trains.

A total of 96 LNG cargoes set sail from U.S. ports last month, according to Eikon trade flows data. The volume shipped was roughly the same as in January.

Over 68% of cargoes exported were heading to Europe, which became the largest destination last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to supply disruptions. At least 15% of cargoes went to Asia, mainly via the Panama Canal, the data showed.

Even though the Freeport LNG outage put a ceiling on U.S. LNG exports, the U.S. Gulf Coast is gearing up for substantial new capacity as construction begins on projects that would provide over 50 million tonnes per annum of new exports.

The region’s LNG project capital expenditure is expected to approach $15 billion by 2025, up from some $5 billion in 2022, consultancy Rystad Energy said in a note to clients this week.

“The pace of this growth far exceeds what the region has experienced in the past and will significantly strain the labor market,” said Rystad’s Senior Vice President Matthew Fitzsimmons, adding that 17 greenfield projects will begin construction during peak activity.

U.S. LNG exports peaked in March 2022 at 7.67 million tonnes, according to the Eikon data.


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