Return of US LNG terminal to market reduces European gas prices

A gas hob.
A gas hob. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A fire in June shut down the US Freeport LNG terminal but it is now back up and running. When the port's export capacity is fixed, also gas prices in Europe will go down.

Reuters reported on Monday that the 20.5 billion cubic meter Freeport LNG terminal in the state of Texas asked the state energy authority for permission to restart work on its export-bound liquefied natural gas production lines.

In June, one of the terminal's production lines caught fire and the terminal has been out of operation since then, reducing the amount of LNG exported from the U.S. by around a sixth. Initially, the company had hoped to resume exports by October.

Marko Allikson, CEO of Baltic Energy Partners, said that up to 17 percent of U.S. LNG exports pass through the Freeport LNG terminal, meaning that more U.S. LNG is now potentially available on the market.

"In the United States, this puts pressure on gas prices due to the rise in demand, but in Europe, it means more supply than before, so it tends to decrease the price of LNG and natural gas," Allikson explained.

However, analysts do not expect the facility to reach full capacity over the next few months. Allikson emphasized that the impact of the Freeport LNG terminal on gas prices is merely one of many factors influencing gas prices concurrently.

"The impact on the market is immediate, but it is very difficult to assess its specific contribution to price movements. As can be seen, the overall trend of gas prices remains downward," he said.

Despite an initial hike in the cost of liquefied natural gas on the U.S. market, gas futures sank five percent on Monday. This was mainly due to domestic consumption slowing because of the warm weather.

Monday, the price for March natural gas futures on the Dutch exchange TTF, which also affects the price on the Estonian market, was close to €52 per megawatt-hour. In August of last year, a megawatt-hour of natural gas on the TTF cost more than €340.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Kristina Kersa

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