HOUSTON (Reuters) - Several vessels, including two oil tankers and one for handling liquefied natural gas, were stalled and unable to enter the Sabine Pass shipping channel near the Texas-Louisiana border due to draft restrictions, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Thursday.
Port Arthur’s Vessel Traffic Service implemented 32-foot restrictions on draft, or vessel depth, on Wednesday, after a 24-inch steel dredge pipeline was struck and pulled out to sea by a ship moving through the Sabine Pass Channel to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard said in a notice.
As much as 1,000 feet of pipeline is missing, prompting the limits on vessel draft in order that surveys could be carried out to locate the displaced line, the Coast Guard said, adding it would reevaluate the restrictions as warranted.
One liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker was unable to leave Sabine Pass and several other vessels could not enter the channel, it said, declining to identify the other vessels.
The restrictions are in place from Sabine Pass to the Sea Buoy. Vessels with drafts under 32 feet may still pass through the channel, the Coast Guard said.
Sabine Pass was the first big LNG export terminal to enter service in the Lower 48 U.S. states in February 2016. It has four liquefaction trains operating, each capable of liquefying about 0.7 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.
One billion cubic feet of gas is enough to supply about five million U.S. homes for a day.
Cheniere Energy Inc, which operates an LNG terminal at Sabine Pass, said its operations were not impacted by the incident.
Gas flows into Cheniere’s export terminal slowed earlier this week. The amount of gas flowing into its Sabine Pass LNG terminal fell to 2.1 bcfd on Tuesday from 2.7 bcfd on Monday, according to Reuters data.
Reporting by Liz Hampton in Houston and Scott Disavino in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Meredith Mazzilli