Houston — Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG exported its first cargo Oct. 5 since shutting down ahead of Hurricane Laura's landfall in late August along the US Gulf Coast, a pilots dispatcher said.
The SK Audace, which arrived at the Hackberry, Louisiana facility the day before, left around 7 pm local time with LNG on board, according to the dispatcher with Lake Charles Pilots, which guide vessels through the channel leading to the terminal.
When it entered the channel, it had a draft of about 31 feet, and when it left it had a draft of about 36 feet, the dispatcher said. The draft is the depth of a vessel below the waterline. Draft restrictions that were put in place after the Category 4 hurricane limited vessels to 36 feet as of Oct. 5, though that was expected to rise to 39-40 feet Oct. 6. The tanker appeared to be filled to about 94% of capacity when it departed, S&P Global Platts trade-flow software cFlow showed.
"I'm sure they had to short-load due to restrictions," the dispatcher said. "They did put in some product."
It was not clear whether the LNG that was loaded was recently produced or was pulled from storage that was filled before the storm. The last export from the facility was on Aug. 23.
The dispatcher did not know where the tanker was headed. According to cFlow, the captain's destination showed expected transit through the Panama Canal.
A spokeswoman for the terminal, Anya McInnis, declined to comment when reached via text message after normal business hours. Earlier in the day, she confirmed the tanker's arrival and said that Cameron LNG continued to "meet Hurricane Laura recovery milestones."
"We are working closely with our regional partners at Entergy and the Lake Charles Pilots as we go through the startup process to resume normal site operations and expect feed gas flows to fluctuate until recovery efforts are complete," McInnis said at the time.
Cameron LNG 's three trains were shutdown Aug. 26, the day before Laura caused widespread damage in southwest Louisiana. Cameron LNG remained offline so long largely because of damage to power infrastructure operated by utility Entergy that the terminal relies on to run its trains.
Small, but increasing feedgas deliveries were observed flowing to the facility in recent days. Sempra has previously said that it could be the end of October before the terminal was back to full operations. According to Platts Analytics data, feedgas deliveries of 430 MMcf/d were expected for Oct. 6.
After selling off steeply Oct. 2, prices around the Southeast and Texas rebounded Oct. 5 as stronger week-on-week demand driven by warmer temperatures blankets the southern US. Henry Hub saw a 59-cent increase to $1.92/MMBtu for Gas Day 6.
While prices can be expected to continue to increase in the next few days, Hurricane Delta, which is currently moving toward the Yucatan Peninsula, is forecast to continue to gain strength through the week and possibly make landfall in southern Louisiana by Oct. 9, weakening both offshore production and Southeast feedgas demand.