U.S. LNG exports fall to lowest since Feb after Freeport explosion -data

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Model of LNG tanker is seen in front of the U.S. flag in this illustration taken May 19, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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HOUSTON, July 1 (Reuters) - U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in June fell to the lowest in four months, data from Refinitiv Eikon showed, after the country's second-largest LNG plant was shut by an explosion.

LNG shipments from the United States to Europe had rocketed before the June 8 blast, which knocked out Freeport LNG. The plant had been exporting about 1.9 billion cubic feet per day. Partial operations could resume in October, the company said.

A total of 90 LNG tankers departed from U.S. ports last month carrying 6.42 million tonnes, 11% below the prior month's 7.24 million tonnes, according to preliminary data, based on vessel flows.

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Europe once again was the main destination with 61% of cargoes heading that direction, followed by Asia with 24% of shipments. Exports to Latin America and the Caribbean continued to gain, boosted by Brazil and Argentina, as the Southern Hemisphere's winter increased demand.

At least six tankers that were to load at Freeport LNG in Quintana, Texas, in June were diverted to other U.S. and Caribbean terminals.

On Thursday, a U.S. pipeline regulator said Freeport LNG will not be allowed to repair or restart operations until it addresses risks to public safety. read more

The outage has exacerbated global LNG shortages amid reduced gas flows from Russia, while weighing heavily on U.S. natural gas prices.

U.S. gas futures jumped about 8% on Friday ahead of the long three-day U.S. July 4 holiday due to a technical bounce and forecasts of hotter weather that will push demand up over the next two weeks.

But the lower LNG exports also are allowing U.S. utilities to boost gas storage ahead of the winter, said Rystad Energy's analyst Lu Ming Pang in a note to clients this week.

Current U.S. storage levels are 12.3% lower than a year ago and 13.2% below the five-year average, according to Rystad's figures.

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Reporting by Marianna Parraga; editing by Diane Craft

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Focused on energy-related sanctions, corruption and money laundering with 20 years of experience covering Latin America's oil and gas industries. Born in Venezuela and based in Houston, she is author of the book "Oro Rojo" about Venezuela's troubled state-run company PDVSA and Mom to three boys.