Sabine Pass LNG shipments en route

Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass natural gas import terminal is expecting back-to-back shipments of liquefied natural gas in the next week and is nearly done with construction of its fifth and final LNG storage tank.

lng_tanker_at_sabine_pass Tugboats pull the Al Gharrafa LNG tanker to Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass terminal on June 22, 2008.(Nick de la Torre/Chronicle)

The BP-owned tanker British Ruby is expected this weekend to deliver its frigid cargo, which has been purchased by Cheniere’s marketing business.
Cheniere spokeswoman Diane Haggard said the company could either sell it to an end customer elsewhere in the U.S. or keep it in storage at the terminal and export it at a later date to another overseas market should prices there prove profitable. The terminal was recently granted an export license for just such deals.
A second tanker, the Repsol-owned Castillo de Villalba, is expected on Sept. 9, according to Waterborne Energy, a Houston-based LNG market analysis firm. The cargo was purchased by one of the other partners in the terminal – either Total or Chevron. Haggard says Cheniere doesn’t comment on the activities of its partners.
The terminal, which took its first shipment a year-ago April, is less than two weeks away from finishing up its phase 2 expansion, which would bring the terminal’s storage capacity to 16.8 Billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Cheniere’s terminal was the first new land-based terminal built in the U.S. in decades when it came on line, but its timing was less-than ideal. U.S. natural gas production surged in recent years and the economic downturn sapped demand.
Some analysts thought LNG shipments to the U.S. could surge this year due to a number of new gas liquefaction terminals coming online overseas, but the imports have been somewhat more modest.