Dominion Maryland Cove Point LNG export plant starts to exit outage

(Reuters) - Dominion Energy Inc’s Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Maryland started to exit a three-week annual maintenance outage on Monday, according to data from Refinitiv.

The amount of natural gas flowing on pipelines to the plant was on track to reach 0.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) on Monday from around zero since it shut on Sept. 20, the data showed.

One billion cubic feet is enough to supply about five million U.S. homes for a day.

The timing of this outage was in line with Dominion’s 2018 and 2019 annual maintenance shutdowns.

Dominion spent about $4 billion to add the LNG export terminal to Cove Point’s existing LNG import terminal. It sent out its first cargo in March 2018.

Dominion agreed to sell 25% of Cove Point to a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, which will operate the facility once it completes the acquisition of Dominion’s gas transmission business later this year. Dominion will retain a 50% passive interest in Cove Point.

U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 10.6 bcfd in 2021 and 12.1 in 2022 from 10.0 bcfd now.

By the mid-2020s, analysts say, the United States will become the biggest LNG exporter in the world, ahead of current global leaders Qatar and Australia.

Cove Point is designed to liquefy about 0.75 bcfd of gas.

Dominion sold the project’s capacity for 20 years to a subsidiary of GAIL (India) Ltd and to ST Cove Point, a joint venture between units of Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corp and Tokyo Gas Co Ltd.

ST Cove Point has agreed to sell some of the LNG to Tokyo Gas and some will go to Kansai Electric Power Co Inc, according to Sumitomo’s Pacific Summit Energy (PSE) unit.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Steve Orlofsky