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Freeport LNG restarts Train 1 after October compressor trip, fire at US export facility

Highlights

Cause of mishap continues to be analyzed

Unit at Kinder's Elba still offline from May fire

Houston — Freeport LNG has restarted its first liquefaction train almost three weeks after being shut down due to a trip of a compressor and subsequent fire, the operator of the Texas facility said Nov. 9.

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Feedgas deliveries to the three-train terminal south of Houston jumped 370 MMcf/d day-over-day to 1.84 Bcf/d on Nov. 8, falling slightly to 1.81 Bcf/d on Nov. 9, S&P Global Platts Analytics data show. With all six major US liquefaction facilities running at near capacity, total feedgas deliveries reached approximately 10.6 Bcf/d on Nov. 9, a new record, the data show.

The surge in utilization comes as prices for deliveries to Northeast Asia remain strong, though down from recent levels above $7/MMBtu. The Platts JKM for December was assessed at $6.850/MMBtu on Nov. 9, on stable pricing indications. The JKM is still up substantially from its historic low at $1.825/MMBtu on April 28, when the worst impacts on the global LNG market from the coronavirus pandemic were taking hold.

At Freeport LNG, a trip of the low-pressure mixed refrigerant compressor on Train 1 occurred on Oct. 21. While investigating the trip, officials discovered a small fire, which was put out. No gas was released. While the train was again operating, the cause of the disruption was still being analyzed, spokeswoman Heather Browne said in an e-mail responding to questions.

Fires have caused disruptions at several other US liquefaction terminals in recent months.

A small fire involving Train 1 at Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG facility in Louisiana occurred on Oct. 11. According to Cheniere, the fire was identified on a piece of equipment within a thermal oxidizer. There are five trains that have been completed at Sabine Pass and a sixth under construction. The level of gas deliveries to the terminal on Nov. 9 suggested it was operating near capacity.

In May, a fire at Kinder Morgan's Elba liquefaction facility in Georgia occurred in a mixed refrigerant compressor of Unit 2, shutting down that unit and temporarily, as a precaution, two adjacent units. Unit 2 remained offline Nov. 9, some six months later, spokeswoman Katherine Hill said in an e-mail. She declined to address why the unit was still down or when it would resume production.

Elba, the smallest of the major US liquefaction facilities, has 10 trains and a capacity of 2.5 million mt/year. The terminal near Savannah -- originally built to import LNG and later converted to handle exports after the US shale revolution -- utilizes Shell's Movable Modular Liquefaction System design.