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Small volumes of natural gas started to flow via pipeline to the Freeport LNG export terminal in Texas, which has been shut down since June following a fire, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing flows data from Refinitiv.
The flows are only a fraction of the pipeline gas feeding to the facility when it is operational.
The last time Freeport LNG received small amounts of gas was early last week, and those flows were used to maintain a flare system, sources with knowledge of the operations told Reuters.
Freeport LNG on Monday confirmed for Oilprice.com that repairs had been completed at its liquefied natural gas export facility, which has been offline since June, and that a request to restart by introducing LNG to the piping system had been filed with regulators.
Analysts believe that Freeport LNG will not be able to restart until March.
On January 11, Freeport LNG told Oilprice.com that there was “no change to our restart timeline. We are still targeting the second half of this month for the safe, initial restart of our liquefaction facility, pending regulatory approvals.”
Due to higher export demand for U.S.-sourced natural gas, the restart of Freeport LNG is expected to raise U.S. benchmark natural gas prices, which have just plunged to a 19-month low to below $3 per million British thermal units (MMBtu).
At the same time, Freeport LNG, whenever it resumes exports, would help Europe’s gas supply, where prices could ease.
Europe’s benchmark gas prices have slumped this week anyway and have plunged by at least 25% so far this month amid high inventories, high LNG imports, and expectations of higher temperatures.
The European benchmark, Dutch TTF, traded early on Thursday in Amsterdam near the lowest level since September 2021 as above-normal temperatures are expected across Europe next week, Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank, said. Total LNG imports averaged around 460mcm/day over the last week, up from 400mcm/d the week prior, while storage across the EU is at 76% full capacity compared to an average of 57% for this time of the year, Hansen added.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,