U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports ticked upward over the last week, building on a strong month in October for the global market as colder weather set in.
Thirteen LNG vessels, including eight from Sabine Pass, two from Corpus Christi and one each from Cove Point, Cameron and Freeport, set off between Nov. 7 and Nov. 13 with a combined carrying capacity of 47 Bcf, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). That compares to 12 vessels that departed the United States during the week ending Nov. 6 that carried 43 Bcf.
The send-out aligns with NGI’s U.S. LNG Export Tracker, which monitors volumes delivered to export terminals via pipeline on a daily basis. Deliveries peaked at 7.30 Bcf/d on Nov. 10 and hit a low of 6.98 Bcf/d on Nov. 13, according to the tracker.
EIA noted that on Nov. 4, the 1,000th LNG cargo was shipped from the United States since Lower 48 exports began in February 2016. More than 3.42 Tcf has been exported as LNG from the country since exports began nearly four years ago, the agency said.
EIA in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook said U.S. LNG exports should average 4.7 Bcf/d this year and 6.4 Bcf/d in 2020.
Higher volumes in October, meanwhile, were driven in part by growing U.S. exports. New trains that came online at Cameron LNG and Freeport LNG, along with a ramp up in production at Yamal LNG in Russia and increasing cargoes from Australia, helped drive a global increase in LNG exports last month, said ClipperData’s Kaleem Asghar, director of LNG analytics.
According to ClipperData, 507 vessels moved 30.8 million metric tons (mmt) last month, an increase from the 27.6 mmt at the same time last year.
Despite the gains, the global LNG market is seen weakening on a warmer forecast for the overall winter season, healthy storage inventories and a glut of supplies, setting up what could be a challenging 2020.
“I see a bearish trend throughout the winter because there’s so much LNG right now,” Asghar told NGI. “Even if you keep stable demand,” there’s too much supply. “This year and next year, you’re going to see a lot of pressure on prices.”
Prices in Northeast Asia slid slightly during the second week of November as spot cargoes flooded the region, and in Europe, a persistently low price environment and weak summer demand sent storage levels soaring. At midweek, according to ClipperData, natural gas storage was at 97.7% of capacity. LNG inventories were at 75.9%, compared with 66.5% at the same time last year.
“In Europe, you’re seeing cargoes sit there for 12 or 15 days,” Asghar said. “You see a lot of cargoes outside the Pacific right now...that’s bringing a lot of bearish sentiments.”
Fearnleys AS, which tracks global shipping trends, said the intensity of the October market is fading. New vessel availabilities have been seen on a “regular basis” in the Pacific Basin, while “outright availability of LNG vessels” in the Atlantic Basin is still few and far between, the firm said in its update for the week ending Nov. 13.
Prices in Asia have slipped to some of their lowest levels in a decade, Asghar noted. The dynamics have been evident stateside. According to NGI data, the maximum Gulf Coast LNG netback price for December delivery between the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, Japan Korea Marker and National Balancing Point on Friday was $4.134/MMBtu, or only $1.446 above where Henry Hub futures settled.
In other recent developments, Dominion Energy’s Cove Point export terminal in Lusby, MD, on Friday said it loaded its 100th LNG cargo on Nov. 11 and said it had delivered more than 4 billion gallons of LNG to more 20 countries since it came online in April 2018.
Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG facility in Louisiana, meanwhile, told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission it’s ready to begin commissioning the flare and fuel gas systems on Train 2. The company filed on Tuesday for authorization to introduce hazardous fluids. The second train at the facility is expected to come online early next year.