U.S. LNG export facilities have endured a fair share of Hurricane activity in 2020, with this being the second most active Atlantic hurricane season on record.

EIA: U.S. LNG exports see minimal impact from Hurricane Delta
Image courtesy of Sempra LNG

Six weeks after Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, another hurricane, Hurricane Delta, made landfall as a Category 2 storm in the same region in southwest Louisiana, 40 miles from the Cameron LNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal.

This year’s hurricane season has been the second most active Atlantic hurricane season on record, with 25 named storms.

Almost 90 per cent of U.S. LNG export capacity is located in the Gulf of Mexico, the area frequently affected by hurricane activity, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted in its report.

Cameron LNG was in the main path of Hurricane Delta and implemented a controlled shutdown, but because it did not lose electric power, it was able to restart LNG production two days later on October 11, 2020.

Sabine Pass LNG terminal continued operations during Hurricane Delta, ramping up deliveries to 2.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) on October 12, 2020, according to data provided by Genscape, a Wood Mackenzie business.

After Hurricane Laura, Cameron LNG remained offline from August 27 through September 26. Approximately one month later, the terminal resumed receiving small amounts of natural gas, ramping up deliveries to an average of 0.6 Bcf/d since October 13.

After the waterways around Cameron LNG, including the Calcasieu Ship Channel, were cleared of debris, allowing passage of large LNG vessels, Cameron LNG shipped its first post-Hurricane Laura cargo on October 5, 2020. This cargo was loaded with LNG stored in the terminal’s LNG storage tanks.

Following Hurricane Delta, the Calcasieu Ship Channel is undergoing a post-hurricane damage assessment and remains full of debris that has to be cleared before the passage of deep-draft vessels can resume.

The Sabine Pass LNG terminal remained in operation as Hurricane Delta approached and had a ride-out crew onsite during the storm. On October 11, 2020, two days after Hurricane Delta’s landfall, U.S. Coast Guard re-opened the Sabine Neches Waterway, the location of the Sabine Pass LNG terminal, with some restrictions on the draft of vessels.

Draft of loaded LNG vessels depends on the LNG-carrying capacity of the vessel and the volume of loaded LNG. The LNG-carrying capacity of LNG vessels that have been loading at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal during the past four years ranged from 2.9 billion cubic feet (Bcf) to 4.8 Bcf, and the draft of these vessels when loaded ranged from 31.8 feet to 37.7 feet, EIA said citing shipping data provided by Refinitiv Eikon.

Since the re-opening of Sabine Neches Waterway, three LNG vessels with an LNG-carrying capacity of 3.8 Bcf (loaded draft 35.4 feet), 3.3 Bcf (loaded draft 36.4 feet) and 3.5 Bcf (loaded draft 37.4 feet) have departed the Sabine Pass LNG terminal.

Natural gas feedstock deliveries to all six U.S. LNG export terminals increased to 7.5 Bcf/d on October 12−14, 2020. Cove Point LNG, which was shut down for scheduled annual maintenance since September 22, came back online on October 12, and its LNG feedgas deliveries averaged 0.7 Bcf/d, or 100 per cent of its baseload capacity.

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