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Exports From Sabine Pass Climbed Late Last Year; More Cargos to Mexico

The volume of inlet gas received at the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal was up substantially during November and December, as was the number of export cargos. Meanwhile, during November the terminal saw four cargos depart for Mexico, twice as many as during the preceding nine months.

In a filing at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass LNG LP and Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC said that during December the terminal received 43.17 MMcf of inlet gas and during November received 42.01 MMcf. This was up significantly from previous months. In October the terminal received 6.72 MMcf of inlet gas, 17.56 MMcf in September, 24.99 MMcf in August, and 21.24 MMcf in July.

According to Sabine Pass, the terminal loaded 10 cargos during November and 13 cargos during December. These surpass the previously monthly high, which was set in August when the terminal loaded nine cargos. Destination countries were not disclosed. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from Sabine began a year ago this month.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) latest LNG Monthly, which includes data through the end of November, cargos bound for Mexico from Sabine Pass departed on Nov. 1, 11, 12 and 22. The previous two Sabine cargos bound for Mexico departed Aug. 23 and Sept. 25.

In a third quarter import/export report posted to its website Tuesday, DOE said the period saw an expansion in exports of domestically produced, Lower 48 LNG. Sabine Pass exported a total of 58.4 Bcf of LNG during the third quarter. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Dominican Republic, India, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Spain and Turkey were the destination countries for these 19 cargos. American LNG Marketing LLC also continued smaller, containerized shipments of LNG, exporting 33,448 Mcf in 13 cargos to Barbados from Miami, FL, the report said.

In the third quarter, U.S. LNG imports to the United States by vessel fell 4.6% sequentially and fell 30.9% compared with the third quarter of 2015, DOE said. Nine LNG cargos (16.5 Bcf) were imported by vessel during the third quarter, compared to nine cargos (17.3 Bcf) in the second quarter of 2016 and 10 cargos (23.9) in the third quarter of 2015. LNG import prices (by vessel) were 1.7% lower than the second quarter and 27.5% lower than in the third quarter of 2015.

There were 19 exports of domestically produced LNG during the third quarter (58.4 Bcf), compared to 12 in the second quarter and three cargos in the third quarter of 2015 (8.3 Bcf). The U.S. re-exported two cargos of LNG during the third quarter (0.8 Bcf) to Argentina and Brazil, compared to no re-exported cargos in the second quarter and none in the third quarter of 2015.

Overall, third quarter U.S. natural gas imports totaled 783.1 Bcf and exports totaled 598.0 Bcf, resulting in net U.S. imports of 185.1 Bcf during the quarter. "As usual, most of the imports by pipeline came from Canada, comprising 97.9% of the total," DOE said. "LNG imports and U.S. imports from Mexico made up the remainder, 2.1% of total imports."

Mexico eclipsed Canada as a recipient of U.S. natural gas exports, with 62.3% going to Mexico and 27.8% to Canada. "The remaining 9.8% were very small volumes of LNG trucked exports to Canada and Mexico, as well as LNG by vessel cargos to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Dominican Republic, India, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Spain and Turkey," DOE said.

Total U.S. natural gas exports rose 32.5% compared with the third quarter of 2015, DOE said. "U.S. pipeline exports to Canada increased by 18.2% and U.S. pipeline exports to Mexico increased by 23.2%. Total trucked exports increased by 68.9%. Overall, U.S. exports by pipeline increased by 21.6% while prices declined 1.8%, compared to the third quarter of 2015."

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