U.S. regulators to inspect shuttered Texas LNG plant in September

July 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will inspect Freeport LNG's shuttered liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Texas in September, the agency said on Tuesday.

The plant shut on June 8 because of a fire and was expected to remain out of service until October, Freeport LNG said in an email on Tuesday. read more

Both FERC and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said they would not allow the facility to return to service until they approve the restart. read more

The September inspection is a standard annual site inspection.

The shutdown of Freeport caused natural gas prices in Europe to jump about 40% in the week after the plant shut because it reduced the volume of available exports from the United States at a time when the world is short on natural gas supply.

Europe has been buying U.S. LNG heavily due to reduced flows from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and subsequent sanctions placed on Russia by the United States and its allies. read more

The Freeport shutdown also caused U.S. gas prices to drop because it left more of the fuel in the United States, allowing utilities to quickly rebuild low gas stockpiles.

U.S. futures dropped about 44% due in part to the ongoing outage of Freeport from a near 14-year high of $9.66 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on June 8, the day Freeport shut, to a three-month low of $5.33 on July 5.

In addition to the notice about the upcoming Sept. 13-15 inspection, FERC asked Freeport to provide information about the plant, including "any abnormal operating conditions at the facility" and "any changes in the facility design, process equipment, process piping ... that have been made" since the last FERC inspection on June 23-24, 2021.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Mark Porter, Grant McCool and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.