Three new US LNG terminals expect deliveries soon

NEW YORK, April 11 Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:26pm EDT

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NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - Three new U.S. liquefied natural gas terminals, two on the Gulf Coast and one in the Northeast, should receive their first deliveries in the next week, according to a Houston-based consulting firm.

Waterborne Energy, which monitors the global flow of liquefied gases, said the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, near the Texas border, expected its inaugural delivery of super-cooled gas on April 12 on the vessel Celestine River, loaded in Trinidad.

Cheniere Energy (LNG.A), parent of Sabine LNG, will own all of the terminal's 2.6 billion cubic feet per day of capacity until 2009, when Chevron (CVX.N) and Total SA (TOTF.PA) take 1 bcf each.

The Freeport LNG terminal near Freeport, Texas, expects its first cargo aboard the tanker Excelsior from Nigeria on April 16.

Denver oilman Michael Smith, who owns 45 percent of the Freeport LNG terminal, is managing partner, with Cheniere one of three minority stakeholders.

Conoco Phillips (COP.N) has bought two-thirds of Freeport LNG's total capacity of 1.5 bcf, with the remaining third committed to Dow chemical (DOW.N).

The launch of the two new terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast will be the first onshore LNG ports opened in 25 years.

The long-awaited startup of Excelerate Energy's Northeast Gateway offshore terminal off the coast of Boston, Massachusetts, also is expected around April 16 aboard the tanker Excellence, loaded in Trinidad.

The offshore buoy system at Northeast Gateway, completed late last year, is capable of delivering up to 500 million cubic feet of natural gas daily to the New England market, or nearly 20 percent of regional demand.

LNG is natural gas cooled to liquid form for loading on special tankers and delivery to receiving terminals where it is regasified and pumped into onshore pipelines.

The United States currently has five operational LNG terminals, including another offshore terminal off Louisiana opened in 2005, with a total capacity of about 6 bcf per day, but total receipts so far this year have been running at less than 1 bcf daily.

New U.S. LNG terminals expected to come on line this year and next year could more than double current regasification capacity to about 13 bcf per day. (Reporting by Joe Silha; Editing by David Gregorio)

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