US LNG imports forecast to rise 35 percent in 2007

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Pipeline natural gas imports by the US, on the other hand, are projected to decline by 4.4 percent, or 160 Bcf, in 2007 as rig activity and production from the main import source, Canada, continue to dip.

Sales of LNG spot cargoes to the US have also been more profitable in recent months than sales to Europe as the Henry Hub spot price averaged $7.88 per million British thermal units in May, up from $7.83 per MMBtu in April and $7.32 per MMBtu in March. 

That compares with equivalent average European natural gas prices recently of under $4 per MMBtu.

From August, the average Henry Hub spot price is expected to climb toward a winter peak of about $9.45 per MMBtu in January 2008.  The US spot price is expected to average $7.96 per MMBtu in 2007 and $8.15 per MMBtu in 2008.

On an annual basis, dry natural gas production from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to decline 7.4 percent in 2007, boosting demand for LNG.

The EIA’s projection of 2007 US natural gas production now includes a hurricane-induced outage of 86 Bcf for the Gulf of Mexico as the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to generate between seven and 10 hurricanes.

The total “hurricane impact” outage is spread across five months (June through October), with the shares distributed by the average historical outage for each month (June 1.1 percent; July 5.3 percent; August 33.3 percent; September 46 percent; and October 14.5 percent), the EIA said.