US LNG: August – September 2022

Monday, 03 October 2022
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• August-September exports at 12.47mmt at time of writing • Down 1.41mmt (-10pct) over May-June period • Shipments up 0.67mmt (6pct) over period year-on-year • Avg. US capacity utilisation at 87pct for reporting period. 

US LNG exports decreased slightly from 12.62mmt during the previous reporting period to 12.47mmt in August-September. Shipped US LNG was thus down 0.15mmt (-1pct) compared to June-July. However, they still came in 0.67mmt (6pct) above their annual equivalent of 11.80mmt.

Consequently, export capacity utilisation averaged 87pct for the reporting period, down 1pp from the previous period of June-July but up 5pp from 82pct in 2020.

Whilst August exports continued apace at 6.44mmt, they declined to 6.11mmt in September. The slightly shorter month of September also had some effect. Nevertheless, the overarching, export- reducing factor was the continued outage of the Freeport plant since a fire incident at the beginning of July. Operator Freeport LNG announced in August that its restart would be delayed to mid-November. Following the incident, US LNG plants led by Sabine Pass LNG and Cameron LNG were initially stepping up to compensate for the outage at Freeport LNG and supply additional cargoes to Europe, our data showed. Production from Corpus Christi LNG’s third train also helped. US LNG export growth from these established plants was enticed by European gas prices trading as high as US$100/mmBtu in August. High production levels continued into August. However, these plants could not sustain the resulting above-nameplate production and subsequently reduced exports in September. The August to September decreases were thus also led by Corpus Christi LNG, Cameron LNG, and Sabine Pass LNG, where exports decreased by 0.34mmt, 0.24mmt and 0.23mmt, respectively. Cove Point LNG reduced its September exports more moderately in volume terms by 0.07mmt. As such, the main role of cushioning the drop in exports fell to Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass terminal, which continued to ramp up output by 0.35mmt to 0.85mmt in September from 0.47mmt in August. Elba Island LNG also increased the number of exports month-on-month from two to five shipments, which translated into a 0.20mmt month-on-month increment at the time of writing.

Accordingly, monthly Henry Hub gas spot prices, as assessed by the EIA, surged in August. The Henry Hub price rose by $1.53/mmBtu month-on-month to reach $8.81/mmBtu in August. Overall US LNG exports during the reporting period are likely to have benefitted from considerably higher demand in Europe (1.71mmt were broadly headed for the Atlantic region at the time of writing), with destinations in Northern Europe in the lead. Concurrently, shipments to South America and the Caribbean had more than halved period-on-period. Strong demand in South Korea, meanwhile, could not compensate for an overall reduction in US LNG exports to Asia during the reporting period.

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