Dunkirk LNG terminal boosts volumes with easy gas market access for Russian and US cargoes

Thursday, 04 July 2019
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The Dunkirk liquefied natural gas import terminal on the Channel Coast of France said it accommodated 37 LNG carriers during the first five months of the year and in June also received a cargo from the newest US export plant, Cameron LNG in Louisiana.

“This intense level of activity is due to a complex combination of factors linked to the supply of and demand for LNG on global markets as well as the appeal of the Dunkirk LNG terminal in the market of northwest Europe,” said Pierre Dumont, volumes manager at the Dunkirk LNG company.

The 177,000 cubic metres capacity carrier “Marvel Crane” arrived with the US cargo on June 18 at the French terminal.

The Dunkirk facility was commissioned at the end of 2016 and is now owned and operated by a consortium comprising Fluxys of Belgium, operator of the Belgian Zeebrugge import terminal and insurance and banking groups from France and South Korea.

One of its advantages is that it offers easy access to European gas markets for new LNG cargo sources such as Russia and the US as well as traditional suppliers like Algeria, Qatar, Nigeria and Norway.

French energy major Total, a shareholder in the US Cameron plant, was one of the original shareholders in Dunkirk LNG with France’s main utility Engie, though both sold their Dunkirk stakes in 2018.

However, Total is still a supporter of the Dunkirk facility, which also receives Russian volumes from the Yamal plant in northern Siberia, where Total is also a stakeholder.

“The huge influx of LNG at our terminal is attributable, in part, to the supply of and demand for LNG on the global market,” said Dunkirk manager Dumont.

Supply is higher than expected due, in particular, to the production of LNG that was greater than initially foreseen at the Yamal LNG plant in Russia.

The Russians chose to channel these volumes towards the European market rather than Asia.

“However, the increase in supply occurs at a time when demand in Europe is stable and demand from Asia is rising more slowly than expected,” he added.

Dumont said that LNG producers have been forced to find the best possible outlets for their volumes while taking into account the market conditions.

“Under these market conditions, terminals in the northwest of Europe fulfil the market's expectations very well,” said Dumont.

“Dunkirk exceeds these expectations for at least two reasons,” he added.

“On the one hand, it offers access to both the French and Belgian markets and, on the other, it offers a competitive and environmental advantage thanks to the use of warm water from the Gravelines nuclear power plant to reheat the LNG and thereby turn it back into a gas (before it enters the transmission network), instead of using a more costly form of energy,” he explained.

“Our clients can therefore unload, store and regasify their LNG at our terminal under very favourable conditions,” stated Dumont.

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