U.S. LNG Exports Set to Rise for First Time in Six Months

(Reuters) — U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are on track to rise in August for the first time in six months, rallying U.S. gas prices by over 15% to a three-month high, according to analysts, energy traders and data from Refinitiv. 

So far this year, LNG buyers around the world have canceled more than 100 U.S. cargoes as prices for the fuel collapsed to record lows in Europe and Asia as demand collapsed due to the coronavirus.

Even before the pandemic spread, global gas prices were already trading at their lowest levels in years after a record number of LNG export terminals entered service in 2019, flooding the global market with fuel, at the same time winters in Europe and Asia were warmer than normal, forcing utilities to keep record amounts of gas in storage.

Stockpiles in the United States and Europe are now expected to reach all-time highs at the end of the summer injection season.

The amount of pipeline gas flowing to U.S. LNG plants averaged 4.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) (41% utilization) so far in August, according to Refinitiv, putting LNG exports on track for their first monthly gain since hitting a record high in February. Utilization was about 90% in 2019.

That compares with a 21-month low of 3.3 bcfd in July when buyers canceled the most cargoes in a month and the all-time high of 8.7 bcfd in February. 

With LNG exports rising again and forecasts for hot weather expected to blanket much of the United States until late August, keeping air conditioning demand high, U.S. gas prices at the Henry Hub benchmark in Louisiana soared over 15% on Monday to their highest since early May.

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