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Sabine Pass Pull on Gas Market to Grow in Q2

With Sabine Pass Train 3 online and Train 4 poised to begin taking feedgas in the coming days, Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Louisiana liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal could be pulling 3 Bcf/d from the U.S. natural gas market by the second quarter, Barclays Research said in a note Wednesday.

Barclays said Train 4 feedgas approval was expected by the end of this week after Cheniere last Thursday asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to begin introducing feedgas. Feedgas introduction might not result in an immediate spike in gas demand at the terminal, Barclays said, based on what was seen following the commissioning starts for the first three trains.

But then again, it might. The recent completion of optimization work on Train 3 and the absence of maintenance activity on Trains 1 and 2 could mean that "...this time 'round we may see a relatively quick increase in feedgas demand once Train 4 begins commissioning activities." The first three trains are operating with total feedgas demand of about 2-2.3 Bcf/d, Barclays said.

Looking back to January and activity at Sabine Pass, the terminal sent out 17 cargos during the month, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's latest LNG Monthly, which was released last Friday. Mexico took five cargos, followed by Japan (three), Spain (three), Jordan (two), and Malta, India, China and Portugal each taking one cargo. Prices at the terminal ranged from a low of $3.72/MMBtu to a high of $7.52/MMBtu, the latter including liquefaction fees. All of the shipments were under long-term agreements except for one of the cargos sent to Spain, which was under a short-term agreement.

Since February 2016, when exports from Sabine Pass began, and through last January, cargos shipped by tanker have gone to 18 destination countries. The top six by number of cargos are Mexico (14), Chile (10), China (7), and Argentina, India and Japan (each with six).

LNG exports by vessel in January totaled 51.2 Bcf, the highest to date according to available DOE data. That was up from 41.8 Bcf in December and 32.9 Bcf in November. None of these months saw the re-export of previously imported cargos.

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