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Gas deliveries from Cheniere Energy, the operator of the Sabine Pass LNG export terminal, dropped on Monday and Tuesday, signaling they may now be shutting down for repairs to fix gas flares that had not performed as expected, according to reports.
Cheniere had said earlier this month that the planned shutdown would begin “later this month” and would last four weeks, but no specific date had been given.
Even while the repairs are going on, LNG from the terminal could continue being shipped to various export destinations, Argus Media notes, because it also includes a number of storage tanks capable of holding a combined 17 billion cu ft of gas, and according to Argus, they are full to capacity at the moment. These 17 bcf of gas can be divided into four or five export cargos, with the typical average load of an LNG tanker ranging between 3 and 3.5 bcf.
The terminal received a daily average of 1.18 bcf in the first two weeks of September, but on Monday it only received 20.8 million cubic feet, and the same amount was scheduled for delivery on Tuesday. This indicates that the two operating liquefaction trains at Sabine Pass have been shut down in preparation for the repairs. The terminal is planned to have a total of five trains, each with a daily capacity of 694 million cubic feet of LNG.
At the end of last month, the first cargo of LNG from Sabine Pass reached China, media reported at the time. This was the first cargo of U.S. LNG to be exported to Asia. The continent is the most attractive market for LNG producers worldwide because of ample demand. This demand, however, has slackened recently, as more and more LNG projects came on stream, pushing prices down.
The Sabine Pass project is worth US$20 billion and is one of several such projects being built around the U.S. in a bid to make better use of the abundance of natural gas extracted across the country’s shale plays. So far, however, U.S. LNG has faced stiff competition abroad, more specifically in Europe and Asia, where LNG exporters with a presence are prepared to cut their prices in order to preserve their market share – something not so easily achievable for U.S. exporters.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.