Vessels seek other ports after Texas Freeport LNG delay, data shows


At least two liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels gave up on Freeport LNG’s export plant in Texas this week after sources said the company would extend the plant’s seven-month outage until February or later, ship tracking data from Refinitiv showed.

Earlier in the week, the Elisa Larus vessel stopped waiting outside Freeport and moved down the coast to Cheniere Energy Inc’s Corpus Christi LNG export plant in Texas.

Over the past 24 hours, Corcovado LNG, which was expected to reach Freeport next week, changed its destination to Galveston, Texas, which is near Freeport. There is no LNG export plant in Galveston, so it is unclear where Corcovado LNG will ultimately go.

The Freeport shutdown after a fire in June 2022 added to the squeeze on global gas caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It helped boost prices in Europe and Asia to record highs over the summer of 2022, while capping gains in U.S. gas futures by leaving more fuel in the United States for domestic use.

After several delays from October to November and then to December, Freeport said again this week that the LNG plant was on track to return in the second half of January, pending regulatory approvals.

Despite Freeport’s sliding timeline, analysts have long said it would likely take until the first or second quarter of 2023 to restart the plant due to the large amount of work needed to satisfy federal regulators, including training staff in new safety procedures.

Whenever Freeport returns, U.S. gas demand will jump. The plant can turn about 2.1 billion cubic feet per day s(bcfd) of gas into LNG, which is about 2% of U.S. daily production.

Several vessels, including Prism Diversity, Prism Courage and Prism Agility, were waiting in the Gulf of Mexico to pick up LNG from Freeport. Some have been there since early November.

Other ships, meanwhile, were sailing toward Freeport, including Prism Brilliance, Kmarin Diamond and Wilforce, which are expected to reach the plant in late January.

Source: Reuters

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