Texas markets

Explosion and fire at Texas LNG terminal shake residents and fuel markets

NEW YORK — An explosion at a liquefied natural gas terminal in Texas has shaken nearby residents and is taking a substantial amount of fuel off the market at a time when global demand is soaring.

Freeport LNG will be offline for at least three weeks, the company announced Thursday, following a fire in its export factory. Few details have been released about what happened. The company said no one was injured and the cause is being investigated.

Melanie Oldham, who lives in Freeport, said she heard three loud bangs on Wednesday morning and went out to find out what was going on.

“It makes me feel like we live with a high risk of explosion, gas release, public health issues on a daily basis not only for us in Freeport, but for all the people who go to these great beaches in the Quintana Island,” said Oldham, a physical therapist and co-founder of Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Water of Freeport and Brazoria County. “We don’t know what could have been released into the air or even into the water.”

Freeport LNG did not respond to questions about the emissions that were released during the fire.

Longtime Freeport resident Gwendolyn Jones, 63, said she was about a mile or two from the facility when she saw a white cloud hovering overhead after the fire. She was concerned Freeport residents had been evacuated or warned of the incident by local authorities and believed nearby residents should be provided with respirators to help reduce the risk of inhaling dangerous fumes.

“We should have meetings where we can discuss the issues to make sure this never happens again because I’m scared of what’s going to happen next,” Jones said. “Nothing but the grace of God kept us alive in these situations.”

Normally, Freeport LNG exports about 2 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas per day, or about 15% of national LNG exports.

The shutdown comes at a time of high global demand for LNG as many countries try to wean themselves off Russian gas, which is mainly sent to Europe through pipelines. US exports have soared.

Most of Freeport LNG’s exports were destined for Europe, according to Rystad Energy. Europe may be able to make up for lost volume with increases from other facilities, said Emily McClain, vice president of Rystad. Europe gets about 45% of its LNG from the United States, and the rest comes from Russia, Qatar and other sources, she said.

Freeport LNG sells gas to a mix of buyers, including major oil and gas companies, Asian utilities and commodity traders, and “those buyers will not receive further deliveries from Freeport until the facility is closed.” not fixed,” said Ross Wyeno, principal analyst at S&P Global. Overview of goods. Wyeno said it was unlikely other LNG terminals around the world would be able to ramp up production to pick up the slack because “everyone is pretty much maxed out if they can.”

As a result, LNG prices are rising and European consumers are likely to feel the impact, Wyeno said. But in the United States, natural gas prices are falling because a major buyer of gas – the LNG terminal – has stopped buying, he added.

Falling domestic natural gas prices, however, are not soothing the nerves of people who live near the terminal. Freeport residents such as Oldham and Jones have long been concerned about the potential for incidents at the terminal.

“Our fears came true, unfortunately,” Oldham said.