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US LNG Exports Slip in August

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

September 1, 2023

© Björn Wylezich / Adobe Stock

© Björn Wylezich / Adobe Stock

U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) fell in August as some processing plants reduced output and a heat wave increased gas demand for power, leaving less gas available for LNG production, according to vessel monitoring data and analysts.

Above-normal temperatures and drought hit the U.S. Southwest last month, triggering record electricity demand and forcing providers to ask users to voluntarily reduce consumption. Maintenance outages also curbed processing at two Cheniere Energy facilities: Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Corpus Christi in Texas.

Gas supply to the seven largest U.S. LNG export plants fell to an average of 12.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in August from 12.7 bcfd in July. That compares with a monthly record of 14.0 bcfd in April.

A total of 102 cargoes departed from U.S. ports last month, carrying 7.32 million tons of LNG, slightly below the 7.51 million tons shipped the previous month, according to preliminary data from LSEG Eikon.

The main destination of U.S. LNG exports was Europe, which received about 52% of cargoes, followed by Asia with 30% and South America and the Caribbean with 7%.

As many vessels avoided the Panama Canal, where prolonged drought has forced restrictions on daily transit and ship draft, most transporters of U.S. LNG to Asia preferred the Suez Canal or took the longest route around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope.

Some of the LNG tankers that opted for the Panama Canal now accumulate wait times of more than three weeks, the data showed.

U.S. natural gas production rose to 102.2 bcfd last month from 102.1 bcfd in July, according to financial firm LSEG. But very high demand from gas-fueled electricity plants, especially in Texas, made a dent in inventories.

U.S. gas futures climbed about 2% to a three-week high on Friday on a drop in daily output and forecasts for continued hot weather in the Lower 48 U.S. states through at least Sept. 16.

The volume of U.S. gas flowing in September to LNG export plants will bounce as facilities return to normal processing rates, analysts forecast.

(Reuters - Reporting by Marianna Parraga; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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