Freeport LNG Development LP has received US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to resume commercial operations at its 15-million tonne/year (tpy) plant on Quintana Island, Tex. Authorization provides for the immediate full return to service of one 5-million tpy liquefaction train (Train 3), that has already restarted, and incremental restart and full return to service of a second train (Train 2).
The restart and return to service of Freeport LNG's third 5-million tpy train (Train 1) will require subsequent regulatory approval once certain operational conditions are met. A conservative ramp-up profile to establish three-train production of LNG using roughly 2 bcfd of natural gas is anticipated over the next several weeks as stable operation of each incremental train is established and maintained.
Operations will initially use two of Freeport LNG's three 160,000-cu m LNG storage tanks and one of its two LNG berths. The second LNG berth and third LNG storage tank are expected to return to service in May 2023. First LNG production and ship loading from the plant began earlier this month (OGJ Online, Feb. 14, 2023).
The restart of Freeport will increase US LNG exports, with the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasting an 11% rise in 2023 from 2022 levels. Despite this, the EIA has revised its 2023 US natural gas price predictions downward, with a mild winter pushing US inventories above the 5-year average. Rystad Energy also expects the US market to remain soft, noting liquefaction capacity limitations, a lack of new export projects, and sluggish pipeline exports to Mexico, in addition to inventories. The mild winter has also helped European prices recede, though they remain elevated with upward price risk continuing due to the structural supply deficit in that market, Rystad said (OGJ Online, Feb. 6, 2023).