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Natural gas deliveries to U.S. LNG export terminals surged to record levels in the waning days of November, topping 12 Bcf/d as strong global gas demand continued to incentivize operators to run their facilities at full bore.

Total feedgas deliveries to the six major operating U.S. LNG export facilities hit about 12.1 Bcf/d on Nov. 26 and remained near that level for about two days before dropping to about 11.2 Bcf/d on Nov. 30, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence pipeline flow data. This last number compared to about 10.9 Bcf/d on Nov. 30, 2020, as sector activity rebounded from the impacts of the pandemic.

Average flows for November 2021 exceeded 11 Bcf/d.

Part of the uptick in activity was because of commissioning work on a sixth liquefaction train at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s flagship Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana. The company said the train produced its first LNG on Nov. 23. But high global gas prices were a key driver.

Some government officials have joined in the criticism of U.S. energy companies over higher domestic gas prices this winter, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. The senator sent a Nov. 23 letter to 11 natural gas producers asking why they are keeping production low and exporting record amounts of gas. Warren expressed concern that domestic prices were “being driven by energy companies’ corporate greed and profiteering.”

Appalachian oil and gas trade groups, including the Marcellus Shale Coalition, fired back with a Nov. 30 letter that said the lawmaker’s “recent attempts to use the U.S. energy industry as a scapegoat for rising energy prices is a deeply misguided, headline-grabbing ploy.” The groups said gas price swings are “influenced by a variety of factors, including political and regulatory environments,” and they pointed to increased production from the Marcellus and Utica shale provinces as evidence that markets work.

The White House so far has not suggested it would move to reduce U.S. LNG exports. 

[Corey Paul]

More: US LNG exports hit record highs as global gas crunch persists

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