US LNG data shows fewer and lower priced cargoes but China replaces UK and France as destination

Monday, 22 June 2020
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The US Department of Energy has just published its latest liquefied natural gas export data illustrating the drop in prices at the different plants and with China returning as the second-largest destination and two European nations, the UK and France, dropping out of the top five.

US cargo prices fell in April 2020, according to the new DoE report. Four out of the five large US facilities operating had lower prices in April 2020 versus the previous month.

The Corpus Christi plant in Texas, belonging to Cheniere Energy, was the only exporter to have higher prices compared with the previous month.

The proportion of spot cargoes compared with the contracted and other tolling-based deliveries has declined in 2020.

The number of overall spot cargoes dropped in April to 9.5 percent from 9.8 percent in the previous month. The total volumes shipped since February 2016 came to 4,720.4 billion cubic feet of which 449.6 Bcf were spot shipments.

The average year-to-date prices for each plant (from the export point) from highest to lowest were: Cove Point (Maryland) $6.49 per million British thermal units, Cameron (Louisiana) $5.84 per MMBtu, Sabine Pass (Louisiana) $4.80 per MMBtu, Freeport (Texas) $4.60 per MMBtu, Corpus Christi (Texas) $4.17 per MMBtu and Elba Island (Georgia) $2.99 per MMBtu.

Since US LNG exports began more than four years ago in February 2016, the DoE said a total of 1,446 cargoes had been shipped on LNG carriers and 440 in ISO containers through April 2020 to 38 different countries, including to four nations in the Caribbean who receive ISO containers.

The top five countries of destination represented 47.7 percent of total US LNG exports in April 2020 and China returned to the top five group as the UK and France dropped out.

The top five destinations for cargoes in April were: South Korea (24.3 billion cubic feet - seven cargoes); China (21.1 Bcf - six cargoes), Spain (20.0 Bcf - six cargoes), Japan (18.4 Bcf - five cargoes) and India (18.9 Bcf - five cargoes ).

Each April cargo amounted to 3.39 Bcf of natural gas in volume and totaled 210.4 Bcf, 13.8 percent lower that the March shipments of 244.1 Bcf, though 67 percent higher than in April 2019.

A total of 62 cargos were shipped in April compared with 75 in March 2020 and 42 shipments in April 2019.

The Top 10 countries of destination overall since 2016 through April 2020, by numbers of cargoes, are 1) South Korea 221 cargoes, 2) Mexico 150, 3) Japan 140, 4) Spain 93, 5) UK 77, 6) China 75, 7) Chile 70, 8) India 66, 9) France 61 and 10) Brazil 54 (including split cargoes).

The Sabine Pass plant sent out 27 cargoes in April, Cameron (11) Corpus Christi (10), Freeport (9), Cove Point (5) and Elba Island (0).

The average year-to-date price of US LNG through April 2020 was $4.49 per MMBtu versus March’s $4.66 per MMBtu.

Prices of shipments from the Sabine Pass export point in April averaged $4.42 per MMBtu ($4.68 per MMBtu in March).

Shipments from the Cove Point plant in April cost an average of $5.93 per MMBtu ($6.21 per MMBtu in March).

Prices at Corpus Christi in April averaged $3.59 per MMBtu ($3.08 per MMBtu in March).

Cameron plant exports cost an average price of $4.93 per MMBtu in April ($4.98 per MMBtu in March).

The Freeport facility posted average April prices of $4.41 per MMBtu ($5.01 per MMBtu in March).

The Elba Island plant shipped no cargoes in April and just its second cargo in January 2020 at a price of $2.57 versus $3.77 per MMBtu for the December 2019 cargo.

The US also sends regular ISO containers by cargo ship to the Caribbean nations of Barbados, the Bahamas and Haiti.

In April a total of 15 containers were delivered versus 14 in March 2020. The recipients were Bahamas eight, Barbados four and three for Haiti and none in the month for Jamaica.

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