Genscape: Sabine Pass LNG Export Began Accepting Natgas on Dec 10

Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility in Louisiana is in the process of ramping up for it’s very first shipment of U.S.-produced LNG that will head to a foreign destination. In fact, this will be the very first exported shipment of LNG from the Lower 48 states–ever. Cheniere itself is tight-lipped about the exact date it fires up the plant and begins liquefaction, the process of supercooling natural gas into liquefied natural gas. So how do we know the plant has been activated? Through the ingenious work and service from a company called Genscape. MDN editor Jim Willis sat in on a Genscape presentation at Bloomberg’s offices in New York City in early November. They have a really cool service. Using special cameras mounted on nearby properties, Genscape can tell if natural gas is flowing through a pipeline, or if a plant’s compressors are fired up and working, or even monitor truck and rail shipments into and out of facilities like Sabine Pass. Using their proprietary technology, Genscape says “the first substantial deliveries (46 million cubic feet) of natural gas flowed into the Sabine Pass facility on Dec. 10. Why does MDN care? Because some of that gas either already does, or soon will, come from the Marcellus/Utica…

Here’s the report from Genscape, along with an offer to sign up to receive future alerts from Genscape about LNG:

First Substantial Deliveries to Sabine Indicate Train 1 Commissioning is Well Underway

December 11, 2015

Optimized cascade process. Click to enlarge

On Thursday December 10, 2015, the first substantial deliveries (46 MMcf) to Sabine Pass LNG were seen from Creole Trail’s “Creole Trail-SPLIQ-D” meter location. This increase in deliveries to Sabine came from a receipt (33.6 MMcf) off of the TETCO pipeline on December 10. This point has an operational capacity of 1.7 Bcf. Nominations at this point were first observed on October 1, 2015. Since then this point has averaged 2.74 MMcf/d. This correlated with consistent flaring activity seen by Genscape’s proprietary monitors.

This substantial increase in delivery represents a huge step towards commissioning and first LNG production at Train 1. Genscape’s monitors have been able to see systematic testing of the turbine stacks that run the compressors in the ConocoPhillips Cascade Process whereby a three loop (propane, ethylene and methane) process ‘cools’ the gas to -260o F. Based on the ConocoPhillips Cascade process, Genscape anticipates that all of the turbine stacks will be visible (hot) when liquefying.

Comments made by Cheniere CEO, Charif Souki, during the 20th International Gas & Electricity Summit in Paris have indicated that they will fill all of their storage (17 Bcf) before the first cargo is loaded in January 2016. He indicated they need to see the rate at which Train 1 produces LNG. In addition, he mentioned accumulating enough LNG to cool down everything, stating they have five tanks (3.4 Bcf each). The newly commissioned LNG ship expected to load this first cargo, Energy Atlantic, is steaming towards Sabine. The ship is currently located in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.

Major Sabine points active on Creole Trail. Click to enlarge

Each train at Sabine has a nameplate liquefaction capacity of 0.6 Bcf/d. Shipping data provided by Genscape unit, Commodity Vectors, has confirmed that Sabine has taken maintenance cargos to keep the regasification side cold. A recent unloading occurred November 14, 2015 and was confirmed by Genscape’s visual cameras watching the ship berth and facility. This unloading represented adding 4.77 Bcf to Sabine’s LNG storage, with the last maintenance cargo being March 14, 2015 (5 Bcf). Boil off gas from Sabine has been about 4.41 Bcf since that last cargo (averaging 16 MMcf/d) arrived in March 2015. Assuming about 5.0 Bcf in storage already from the recent maintenance cargo, at a full blown 0.6 Bcf/d in liquefaction production Sabine needs twenty days to fill all of their tanks and meet the loading of first LNG January 12, 2016.

Based on this information, the last date they have to start liquefying at Train 1 is December 23, 2015 to meet a January 12, 2016 loading.

Genscape’s soon-to-launch comprehensive North American LNG Supply and Demand service will include proprietary, real-time monitoring of the LNG feedstock supply chain, facility production, and maritime freight movements to inform sourcing and supply chain analysis. A comprehensive picture of the flow of gas – from the gas field to the liquefaction facility – and the costs associated with each step, allows buyers to identify the most cost effective and efficient options in near real-time. Click here to learn more or register interest in this upcoming service.