Freeport LNG exported its first cargo Feb. 12 since an explosion and fire shut the US liquefaction facility in June, S&P Global Commodity Insights data showed.
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The BP-chartered Kmarin Diamond departed the Texas facility at around 7:30 a.m. local time. It appeared to be at least partially laden, with its next destination set for Port Said, which suggests it would be heading through the Suez Canal, the trade flow data showed.
To load the tanker, Freeport used supplies that were in its storage tanks when the fire forced the terminal offline in June, an Atlantic market source said. Production restart was close, sources have said.
The tanker last delivered a cargo Dec. 4, to Croatia, having loaded that shipment at Cheniere's Sabine Pass export facility in Louisiana a month earlier, trade flow data showed.
The three-train, 15 million mt/year capacity Freeport LNG was shut down after an explosion and fire June 8. BP is among its long-term offtakers. The facility also has offtake commitments with South Korea's SK Group, Japanese utilities JERA and Osaka Gas, and TotalEnergies, based in France, which controls more than 2.2 million mt/year of LNG from the third train. On Jan. 30, JERA, Japan's largest power generation company, said it was securing alternative LNG supplies for the current fiscal year ending in March because of the Freeport LNG outage.
Despite the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission giving Freeport the greenlight Feb. 9 to resume ship loading, significant uncertainty remained in the market about the timeline for the return of feedgas demand at the facility, which can take up to 2.1 Bcf/d when it is operating fully and could help reduce a supply overhang weighing on domestic gas prices.
US gas futures traders have had a muted reaction to the recent commissioning developments at Freeport amid bearish supply-demand factors that included disappointingly low US heating demand this winter, a rising storage surplus, and a mild weather forecast for the balance of February.
Globally, the anticipated near-term resumption of shipments from Freeport has continued to help drive bearish price sentiment in the LNG market. LNG prices have fallen significantly from 2022 levels, but remain high relative to historical norms.