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Cove Point set to make 1st LNG shipment, with tanker waiting in Chesapeake

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Cove Point set to make 1st LNG shipment, with tanker waiting in Chesapeake

Dominion Energy Inc.'s Cove Point LNG terminal in Maryland is days away from exporting its first gas cargo, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The Gemmata tanker, owned by a Royal Dutch Shell plc affiliate, was anchored in the Chesapeake Bay 1.5 nautical miles from the Cove Point port in Lusby, Md., on Feb. 27, according to ship tracking website MarineTraffic.com. The vessel is likely to depart Cove Point "early next week," according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter.

Cove Point spokesman Karl Neddenien said he could not provide information on LNG ship schedules or the liquefaction project's schedule. Dominion has said it expects the LNG export terminal to enter commercial service in early March, after it was delayed from its previous expected in-service date in late 2017. Shell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the shipment.

Cove Point will be the second major LNG export facility in the U.S., following to the market Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass in Louisiana. The $4 billion project will have a capacity of 5.25 million tonnes per annum, bringing total U.S. liquefaction capacity to more than 23 mtpa.

Shell NA LNG has an agreement with the developer to provide gas to the Cove Point facility and take volumes of LNG produced during the commissioning process.

A separate LNG tanker, the Methane Spirit, also had Cove Point listed as a scheduled destination, according to MarineTraffic.com, which uses information from a network of hundreds of thousands of vessels that voluntarily report their movements to stations around the world. The Methane Spirit, which left Japan on Feb. 15, is scheduled to arrive at Cove Point on March 30. Ships frequently change destination midtrip.

Once Cove Point is in commercial service, GAIL (India) Ltd. and a joint venture between Sumitomo Corp. and Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. will receive LNG produced at the terminal under 20-year contracts.

Natural gas flows at the Cove Point plant climbed to roughly 374,000 Dth on Feb. 26, the highest level since the facility began reporting climbing flows in mid-February, SNL Energy pipeline flow data showed. Cove Point does not separately report the flows of regasified LNG leaving its LNG import terminal and the flows of feed gas brought to the site for liquefaction, though the increasing flows are consistent with the company's Jan. 31 announcement that Cove Point had begun to liquefy gas.