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US LNG utilization drops after power surge at one facility, maintenance at second

Highlights

Freeport LNG ramping up after lightning strike

Cameron LNG work to be complete by end of week

Houston — Freeport LNG ramped up service May 13 after a lightning strike caused a power surge that briefly shut down all three trains at the Texas export facility.

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Cameron LNG, meanwhile, was conducting maintenance on one of the three trains at the Louisiana facility, reducing utilization there.

Total US LNG feedgas demand slid to 9.9 Bcf/d from 11.7 Bcf/d a week earlier. After rebounding from the steep dropoff in utilization during the Texas freeze in February, the six major US liquefaction facilities were operating at near capacity, averaging between 11-12 Bcf/d in total feedgas deliveries, for about two months before the declines this week, S&P Global Platts Analytics data show.

According to a filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Freeport LNG experienced a full shutdown on May 12 due to a lightning strike that caused a temporary power surge.

"This resulted in unavoidable venting from the liquefaction Trains 1, 2, and 3 to the liquefaction flare," the filing said. "After restoration of power, the cooldown and restart of each train resulted in venting to the liquefaction flare as the trains were sequentially brought back to operating temperatures that allowed for the cessation of flaring."

Feedgas deliveries to Freeport LNG were up about 200 MMcf/d on May 13 from the day before, but still down about 300 MMcf/d compared with a week earlier.

A spokeswoman for Freeport LNG, Heather Browne, declined to say whether any equipment was damaged.

At Cameron LNG, feedgas deliveries were down about 700 MMcf/d on May 13, compared with a week earlier, Platts Analytics data show. Spokeswoman Anya McInnis said one of the trains was undergoing maintenance.

"A return to normal production levels is expected when the work is completed before the end of the week," McInnis said in an e-mail responding to questions.

Feedgas deliveries to Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana were also down about 700 MMcf/d on May 13 compared with a week earlier. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

A strong global LNG pricing environment has been incentivizing all marginal supply into the market, as exhibited through significant growth in US exports. Even with some turn downs due to regular springtime maintenance and the occasional mishap, utilization at US terminals is expected to be high through the summer and into the fall.