Maryland Cove Point LNG Export Plant to Start Work Next Week

(Reuters) — Berkshire Hathaway Energy's Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Maryland will shut for about three weeks of maintenance starting around Sept. 20, according to pipeline data and analysts.

Officials at Berkshire Hathaway Energy on Wednesday confirmed the pipeline and compressor station maintenance will start on Sept. 20 but would not confirm the shutdown of the liquefaction plant until about the day before an outage.

Traders noted the reduction in gas flows to LNG export plants should weigh on U.S. natural gas prices, which hit a seven-year high on Wednesday for a third day in a row.

But any reduction in U.S. LNG exports could cause European gas prices, which have already jumped over 30% so far in September to record levels, to soar even higher.

Analysts at Energy Aspects said Cove Point is set to undergo its annual three-week shutdown from Sept. 20, which will lower feedgas demand by 0.75 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) until around Oct. 10.

One billion cubic feet is enough to supply about five million U.S. homes for a day.

If Cove Point shuts as expected, the timing of this outage would be in line with its 2018, 2019 and 2020 annual maintenance shutdowns.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc's Berkshire Hathaway Energy operates Cove Point and owns 25% of the facility. The rest is owned by units of Dominion Energy Inc (50%) and Brookfield Asset Management Inc (25%).

Cove Point is designed to liquefy about 0.75 bcfd of gas.

When Dominion operated the plant, it sold the project's capacity for 20 years to a subsidiary of GAIL (India) Ltd and to ST Cove Point, which is a joint venture between units of Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corp and Tokyo Gas Co Ltd.

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