HOUSTON, April 1 (Reuters) - U.S. liquefied natural gas
(LNG) exports rose nearly 16% last month to a record high,
according to preliminary Refinitiv data, with shipments to
Europe continuing to dominate.
U.S. LNG is in high demand as European countries try to cut
gas imports from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine while
also looking to rebuild low inventories.
U.S. LNG exports to all destinations were about 7.43 million
tonnes (MT) last month, according to Refinitiv, up from 6.4 MT
in February and topping the prior record of 7.25 MT in January.
Europe was the top importer of U.S. LNG for a fourth
straight month, taking about 65% of U.S. exports. About 12% of
exports went to Asia, and 3% to Latin America, the data showed.
About 20 vessels responsible for 20% of volumes had not signaled
"The U.S. continues to emphasize European buyers," said Reid
I'Anson, senior commodity analyst at data provider Kpler.
MORE GAS NEEDED
While U.S. LNG exports to Europe have ripped higher since
November, analysts said more is needed with European gas
inventories only about a quarter full, below the five-year
average of about 34% for this time of year.
For graphic on U.S. LNG exports, click here: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-LNG/EXPORTS/lgpdwqaxqvo/
The European Commission has proposed inventories be 80% full
by Nov. 1, which could keep demand strong after the winter
heating season ends.
Germany in February said it would build two LNG import
terminals and boost reserves to cut dependence on Russian gas.
"In order to manage risks, European countries must follow
Germany's example and start a procedure to ration gas demand and
prepare for an eventual supply cut," said Vinicius Romano, an
analyst at the Norwegian consultancy Rystad Energy.
As many as 19 LNG tankers were near or on the way to U.S.
Gulf Coast export terminals on Friday, according to data from
Refinitiv Vessel Tracking service.
Global LNG prices remained high in March, with European
prices still drawing demand from Asia. The European LNG
benchmark this week traded at $39.22 per million
British thermal units (mmBtu), according to Refinitiv, compared
to $28.61 per mmBtu for the same week in February.
Asia spot gas this week traded at $35.00 per mmBtu <LNG-AS>,
according to Refinitiv, down from $37.50 per mmBtu for the same
period in February.
(Reporting by Marcy de Luna; Editing by David Gregorio)