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Natural Gas Prices Tank Again As Freeport LNG Remains Shut For Almost A Month

  • Natural gas prices fell another 7.5% percent on Thursday morning.
  • Freeport LNG outage to lead to drop in exports to Europe and Asia.
  • The cause of the explosion on Wednesday remains unclear.

Amid robust demand for U.S. LNG, one of the biggest liquefaction facilities on the Gulf Coast, Freeport LNG, will be out of commission for at least three weeks following an explosion yesterday.

An explosion rocked the Freeport LNG liquefaction plant yesterday morning, with its cause as of yet unclear. An investigation is ongoing, but according to the operator of the facility, Freeport LNG, the facility will remain shut down for weeks. It accounts for a fifth of total U.S. liquefaction capacity.

The Freeport facility has three liquefaction trains, and a fourth is being constructed. Its current gas processing capacity is 2.1 billion cu ft daily. With the outage, the situation with U.S. LNG exports will become problematic, as evidenced by the gas market’s reaction to the news of the explosion.

Initially, prices fell as traders worried that the outage would reduce American LNG’s market share, per a Financial Times report from earlier today. Bloomberg noted that the fire means a lot of gas will remain stranded at the fields amid surging demand for gas overseas.

Yet prices on international LNG markets might react differently because the Freeport LNG outage effectively means there will be less natural gas for export, especially to energy-thirty Europe and Asia.

In Europe, gas prices have been on the decline for the past few days as an early start of summer reduced immediate demand. An ample supply of LNG has also contributed to the price trend. With the outage, this trend might at some point reverse.

Asian demand, however, is on a strong rise as buyers seek to build inventory for the winter season, Bloomberg reported this week, which is lending further upward support to prices.

“LNG prices remain well above where they normally are, even adjusting for higher crude oil prices,” Sanford C. Bernstein analysts said in a note, as quoted by Bloomberg. “We expect this to be a lull before what looks like a tough winter ahead for consumers.”

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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