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US LNG export terminals operate at or near capacity heading into peak winter use

Highlights

Feedgas deliveries hit new record near 11.5 Bcf/d

Asian spot prices incentivizing surge in activity

Houston — US LNG feedgas deliveries hit a new record of almost 11.5 Bcf/d as Asian import prices continued to show strength heading into the peak winter demand period, S&P Global Platts Analytics data showed.

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Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass terminal was operating at capacity, driving the latest advance that was recorded Dec. 5. Total gas deliveries to the six major domestic liquefaction facilities were down from the recent high at 11 Bcf/d on Dec. 7.

The Platts JKM spot price for LNG delivered into Northeast Asia has continued to find strength over the past month, closing Dec. 7 at $8.328/MMBtu. That's more than a fourfold increase from JKM's historic low on April 28 at $1.825/MMBtu, amid the worst market impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.

Aggressive spot-procurement and bidding for supply in the Pacific Basin highlights how some players have been caught short due to unexpectedly prolonged and intense congestion at the Panama Canal, according to Platts Analytics.

This has been exacerbated by market fear sentiment due to yet-to-materialize supply side issues in Nigeria, Qatar and at Australia's Ichthys facility. JKM gains have also been supported by strengthening European gas fundamentals, and a consequently higher Dutch TTF price.

LNG suppliers are continuing to respond to the uptick in demand and prices with the US now exporting at historically high volumes. Platts Analytics expects year-on-year Asia Pacific demand growth moving through the balance of winter.

While US LNG export activity has recovered from the demand destruction during the spring and summer due to the pandemic, a resurgence in cases could impact the market in the months ahead, depending on the extent of new lockdowns. At least 175 cargoes across the US were said to have been canceled for loading between April and November, based on a Platts tally.

Beyond the positive impact on US terminal utilization in the near term, a continuation of the overall rebound in pricing will be critical to incentivizing the sanctioning of new liquefaction terminals in 2021.