UK faces LNG shortfall as new terminal is delayed

Thursday, 21 June 2007

The South Hook LNG terminal and the Dragon LNG facility, both situated near the port of Milford Haven in Wales, were scheduled to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2007 and early 2008 respectively.

However, the South Hook venture being constructed by ExxonMobil Corp. and Qatar Petroleum is now expected to be commissioned after March 2008.

South Hook will eventually import LNG to the UK from the Qatargas II project and will have capacity to handle 7.6 million tonnes per annum.

Dragon LNG, the other new terminal owned by 4Gas of the Netherlands, an offshoot of Petroplus, and key Atlantic Basin player BG Group, as well as Malaysian LNG producer and energy company Petronas, is on schedule to open by the end of 2007 and will have initial capacity for 4.5 MTPA of LNG.

National Grid, the owner of the UK's Isle of Grain LNG terminal that has imported supplies from countries such as Algeria, Nigeria and Trindad since it opened two years ago, has just publishing an outlook in conjunction with the UK regulator as part of the UK's efforts to oversee energy security.

The report now expects UK LNG imports to be the equivalent of 33 million cubic metres per day instead of the 46 million cubic metres per day it predicted three months ago.

The Dragon LNG capacity for phase on is 6 billion cubic metres per annum, equivalent to a base-load rate of 16 million cubic metres per day.

There is expected to be some swing in the supplies from Dragon and a level of 25 percent has been assumed to result in a revised peak supply of 20 million cubic metres per day, the report added.

South Hook was scheduled to bring in 10.5 billion cubic metres per annum, equivalent to a base load rate of 29 million cubic metres per day. As the commissioning date for South Hook is now later than March 2008, the National Grid has excluded that input from its forecast.

The aggregate UK LNG import number for this winter is now 33 mcm/d, made up of 13 mcm/d from Grain LNG, the average flow during winter 2006/7, and 20 mcm/d from Dragon LNG.

The UK report also points to LNG market uncertainty because of the price differential between the Henry Hub price in the US and the UK National Balancing Point that favours diverting cargoes to the US for a higher price.

"Under these conditions, the US could be expected to attract some or many of the cargoes that could have been expected for the UK. For this reason for our Revised View we are assuming no LNG flows through Teesport, though acknowledge there could be an upside of typically 11 mcm/d," the report said.