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US' Sabine Pass LNG exports hit record high in January

LNG exports from the US' Sabine Pass hit a record in January this year, according to data from Platts Analytics, Friday.

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Export volumes reached 1.476 Bcm of gas equivalent, versus a monthly average of just under 0.5 Bcm since the plant started loading cargoes in February 2016.

The increase in production coincides with the ramp up of the facility's second 4.5 million mt/year train which completed commissioning and was handed over to the operator, Cheniere, in September last year.

Following a period of planned maintenance from September into October, when both trains were brought offline, export volumes have been increasing steadily.



Export volumes have grown steadily from 0.941 Bcm in November to 1.189 Bcm in December, and then to 1.476 Bcm in January.

The majority of cargoes produced at Sabine Pass end up at a terminal in the Americas, with 2.987 Bcm or 43% of all cargoes produced up to January either ending up in North or South America.

Mexico has been the largest recipient of Sabine Pass cargoes so far, taking 1.197 Bcm or 17% of all volumes produced.

This is followed by exports to the Middle East and India, which accounted for 24% of exports (1.644 Bcm).

More recently, deliveries from Sabine Pass to East Asia have increased significantly, moving from only one cargo during the first nine months of production to 11 cargoes between November and January.

With this increase, deliveries to North Asia now account for 17% of all volumes produced up to January or 1.189 Bcm.

There are also five vessels that loaded at Sabine pass in January that have yet to arrived at their final destination. At least one of these, the Maria Energy, has transited the Panama Canal and is headed to North Asia, according to S&P Global Platts ship tracking software, cFlow.

The increase in deliveries to China, Japan, and South Korea coincides with the peak buying season in Asia, where spot LNG prices into the region reach their highest levels.

The Platts JKM for November, December and January averaged $7.18/MMBtu, $8.93/MMBtu and $8.71/MMBtu, well above other months in 2016, which averaged between $4.28/MMBtu and $6.531/MMBtu.

Gulf Coast-sourced deliveries to Europe, meanwhile, have been infrequent, with only five cargoes delivered since the start of production at Sabine Pass.

All of these cargoes have been to southern Europe -- Italy, Portugal and Spain. Overall these account for only 8% of exports from Sabine Pass.

Sabine Pass LNG Train 3 -- which will also have a capacity of 4.5 million mt/year -- is expected to come online in the first half this year.

--Luke Stobbart, luke.stobbart@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jeremy Lovell, jeremy.lovell@spglobal.com