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Excess LNG supply being tendered from T&T

Published: 
Thursday, August 28, 2014

An excess supply of liquified natural gas (LNG) from T&T is being tendered on international markets as “spot cargo,” ICIS said in its August 26 LNG market report. ICIS is an over 30-year-old London-based petrochemical market information provider of pricing data, news and analysis. The LNG is being tendered on the spot market, meaning it is not part of any supply contract commitment by any of the T&T’s Atlantic partners - BP, BG, Shell, NGC and others.

Over the past two years, before news about their sale could hit the market, T&T’s spot cargoes would most often be snapped up by South American neighbours, including Argentina, Brazil and Chile, according to data compiled by the Guardian.

Just this week, both Argentina and Brazil received spot cargoes from Point Fortin, according to Marine Traffic Vessel Finder. Vessel Polar Spirit offloaded at Escobar port near Buenos Aires, Argentina, after departing T&T on August 4. Meanwhile, Vessel Valencia Knutsen offloaded its LNG cargo at Bahia terminal, Brazil after departing T&T on August 19.

“In the Atlantic basin, excess supply is being tendered from T&T and opportunities for reload business from the US Gulf, Spain and northwest Europe are rising in line with more attractive delivered ex-ship (DES) prices in potential end markets,” author Ludovic Aldersley said in the ICIS Market Report. DES is a trade term requiring the seller to deliver goods to a buyer at an agreed port of arrival. The seller remains responsible for the goods until they are delivered. 

Under the sub-heading “Trinidad, US Gulf to offer surplus,” the ICIS said in its report that “a spot cargo for September loading has been offered from the 14.8 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) Atlantic LNG export complex in T&T. The September 23 cargo is being offered on a free on board (FOB) basis from Trinling, one of the consortia that markets volumes from Atlantic LNG Trains 2 and 3.” FOB is a shipping term that means the supplier (Trinling) will pay the shipping costs.

Trinling is a company on paper for trade. LNG is sold to Point Fortin LNG Exports Ltd (PFLE) and Trinling Ltd (both incorporated in T&T) from Atlantic for onward sale. PFLE and Trinling are owned in proportional equity by the North Coast Marine Area (NCMA) and East Coast Marine Area (ECMA) partners, respectively.

NCMA partners are the UK’s BG Group (45.88 per cent), Italy’s Eni (17.31 per cent), T&T’s Petrotrin (19.5 per cent), and NSGP (Ensign) Ltd (17.31 per cent), a privately-held company in Port-of-Spain whose address is in care of attorneys Fitzwilliam Stone Furness Smith & Morgan. ECMA partners are the BG Group (50 per cent) and Chevron (per cent).

“Market sources in the Atlantic Basin said offers for the Trinidad cargo for a late September period could rise to the high US$11.00 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), but so far, discussions for October and November deliveries have been notional,” ICIS said. Natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange traded up to press time for US$3.93 per MMBtu.

“The four-train Atlantic LNG export plant has typically produced only annual contract volumes throughout the year, mainly due to problems with sourcing feed gas. However, with the contract year soon to be concluded in October, additional spot cargoes could become available from Trinidad, which would boost spot flexibility for the fourth quarter,” ICIS said.

The information provider said some may want to buy the T&T LNG to store it. ICIS told traders “storage plays could also be utilised in the Atlantic” and cited “the two cargoes held by US-based ConocoPhillips in its Freeport LNG facility, which were imported earlier this year.” ICIS quoted a trader as saying “offers for a September FOB loading could go into the US$12.00/MMBtu range, but would be dependent on demand in Asia and South America.”

About ECMA
According to the BG Group 2013 data book, the BG Group-operated ECMA development comprises the Dolphin gas field, located 83 kilometres off the east coast of Trinidad in Block 6(b), which commenced production in 1996, and the Dolphin Deep gas field in the adjacent Block 5(a), which started up in 2006.

Both Dolphin and Dolphin Deep are contracted to supply domestic gas to the National Gas Company (NGC) and LNG exports to BG Gas Marketing (BGGM), a wholly owned BG Group subsidiary which is operated by GEMS, via Atlantic LNG Train 3 and Atlantic LNG Train 4.

The gas is produced under a “combined development plan” for the fields in Blocks 5(a), 6(b) and E. Production is currently delivered from the Dolphin field through 13 platform wells, and the Dolphin Deep field from two sub-sea wells. These wells were the first sub-sea completions in T&T, according to the data book. The Dolphin Deep sub-sea facilities are tied back to facilities on the Dolphin platform.

About NCMA
The BG Group-operated NCMA development, located 40 kilometres off the north coast of Trinidad, includes the Hibiscus, Poinsettia and Chaconia gas fields. There is a Unitisation Agreement with Petrotrin for the development of accumulations within the NCMA Unit Area. These fields are being developed in four phases to supply gas to Atlantic LNG Trains 2, 3 and 4, according to BG Group data.

Phases 1 and 2 comprised the installation of the Hibiscus platform in 2001, together with a pipeline from NCMA to Atlantic at Point Fortin. In 2002, BG Group and its partners announced first gas production from the Hibiscus field into Atlantic LNG Train 2, with production into Train 3 in 2003 and Train 4 in 2005. In 2003, de-bottlenecking increased the capacity of the pipeline to 30 per cent above the original design, the group said.

A pipeline connects the platform to the existing Hibiscus platform 20 kilometres away, according to BG Group data. First gas production from Poinsettia was achieved in 2009. The six development well drilling programme completed successfully in 2010, thereby increasing NCMA deliverability to Atlantic. All six wells are in production.

The NCMA 4a compression project, which will sustain existing production from the NCMA fields, was sanctioned by BG Group and partners in 2010. The BG Group data book said construction of the compression unit commenced in 2012, and first gas is also expected in 2014.