By Marcy de Luna
HOUSTON – A liquefied natural gas tanker that has been docked at Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass export terminal in Louisiana since early February is nearly loaded, according to gas supply data, and preparing join a stream of U.S. LNG tankers heading to Europe.
The expected departure of the Greek-flagged tanker Yiannis comes as demand and prices for LNG have soared. An armada of tankers carrying U.S. LNG has been flowing to Europe to ease shortages stemming from lower production and reduced pipeline flows.
The new plant has cranked up its processing, taking a high of nearly 500 million cubic feet of gas on Thursday, indicating “operations are running well,” according to Matt Murphy, an analyst at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.
It has accepted about 6.9 billion cubic feet of gas this month. Venture Global asked U.S. energy regulators for permission to load the vessel by Feb. 9 and began loading two days later, according to Refinitiv Eikon.
Yiannis is signaling an early March arrival in Dunkirk, France, with a cargo of about 153,900 cubic meters of LNG, Refinitiv vessel tracking data showed.
A Venture Global spokesperson declined to comment on the vessel’s loading or expected departure.
JERA Co., Japan’s biggest power generator and one of the world’s top buyers of LNG, has chartered the vessel, energy traders said. A JERA spokesperson declined to comment.
The tanker so far has spent 14 days loading, above the average of between eight and nine days it took to load first cargoes at LNG export terminals in Corpus Christi, Texas; Elba Island, Georgia; and Cove Point, Maryland, David Seduski, an analyst at research consultancy Energy Aspects, said.
“It’s not just the liquefaction trains that need to be tested during the commissioning process, all of the other systems are being used for the first time as well,” said Seduski.
(Reporting by Marcy de Luna in Houston, additional reporting by Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo. Editing by Jane Merriman)