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Full Steam Ahead for U.S. LNG Exports

U.S. producers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exported at top capacity in April for a second consecutive month, with over two-thirds of shipments bound for Europe and rising volumes to Latin America, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Monday.

Following the full restart of a key Texas export facility in February, U.S. LNG producers are taking advantage of firm prices overseas and increasing demand in some markets.

A total of 107 cargoes departed from U.S. ports last month carrying 7.78 million tonnes of LNG, slightly below the previous month’s record of 7.80 million tonnes, according to the preliminary data, based on tanker movements.

Customers in Europe are set to receive 72% of the U.S. LNG shipped in April, followed by Asia with 12% of the total. 

“The U.S. remains Europe’s major LNG exporter, while Russia, the third biggest supplier, continues to deliver robust volumes,” said Nikoline Bromander, an analyst at consultancy Rystad Energy, in a note to clients last week.

INCREASED SHIPMENTS TO LATIN AMERICA 

Higher demand for U.S. LNG in the Dominican Republic, Brazil and particularly in Argentina, lifted shipments to the region, which took 6% of total exports last month versus 4.5% in March. 

Argentina in March announced what could be its “last big purchase of LNG” for the winter, planning $1.8 billion of imports of the super-chilled gas to cover demand peaks before the inauguration later this year of a key gasline to the country’s north, set to balance domestic supply.

The South American country, which last year paid up to $40 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) for imported LNG, expects to pay about half of that this season, Argentina’s Energy Secretary Flavia Royon said in March. 

Natural gas futures rose about 2% last week in the United States, settling at $2.355 per mmBtu as the more expensive June contract became the new front-month and gas supply to LNG plants remained on track to hit a record high for a second month in a row.

Average gas flows to the seven big U.S. LNG export plants rose to 14 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) until late April, up from a record 13.2 bcfd in March, according to Refinitiv.

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