United States LNG Exports Rise in May as Freeport LNG Returns to Production

Reuters, June 3, 2024

U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rebounded in May as Freeport LNG, the country's second-largest exporter of the superchilled gas, returned to full production and as more supplies flowed to Asia, preliminary data from LSEG showed.

The U.S. is the world's largest exporter of LNG and a key supplier to Europe since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but overall exports declined for four consecutive months this year, data from the financial firm showed on Monday.

There have been maintenance activities at some plants, as well as at Freeport LNG due to mechanical problems that led to three of its processing units going offline for almost two months, contributing to a decline through April.

U.S. LNG exports jumped to 7.60 million metric tons (MT) in May from 6.19 million MT in April and just below the 7.61 MT exported in March, LSEG data showed.

Freeport LNG, which can produce 15 million metric tons per annum (MTPA), returned to full production on May 10.

U.S. exporters last month seized on higher spot prices in Asia by sending 3.15 MT, or 41% of total exports, up from 2.02 million tons, or 32.6% in April. Most vessels took the long route past South Africa's Cape of Good Hope to reach their destination, the ship tracking data showed.

Spot prices in Asia climbed last month on firm demand as hot weather increased the need for power generation and buyers took advantage of lower LNG prices relative to the same period in 2023.

Europe remained the largest export market in May with 3.18 MT, or just under 42%, down from 3.25 million MT, or 52.5% of the total volume in April, and the 4.31 million MT, about 57%, in March. The volume was barely ahead of exports to Asia, the data showed.

U.S. LNG exports to Latin America and the Caribbean also expanded. May exports of the superchilled gas to the Americas grew to 940,000 tons, or 12% of total sales, up from 850,000 tons in April, ship tracking data showed.

Gas flows to the seven big U.S. LNG export plants rose to 12.9 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in May from 11.9 bcfd in April with the return of Freeport LNG's 2.1-bcfd plant in Texas, LSEG data showed.

(Reporting by Curtis Williams; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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