U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) producers ramped up exports in October, to 7.92 million metric tons, according to data provider LSEG, the second-highest monthly level on record.
Exports were just shy of the record 8.01 million metric tons in April this year, and were up from 7.12 million metric tons in September, when plant maintenance reduced U.S. production.
The U.S. was the world's largest exporter of LNG in the first half of this year, according to the Energy Information Agency, ahead of Qatar and Australia. Two proposed export plants in Louisiana that would add a combined 38 million tons per annum (MTPA) aim to begin production next year.
The higher exports came as output fell at Berkshire Hathaway Energy's Cove Point, Maryland, terminal. The loss from a 12-day maintenance outage was more than compensated for by higher production at Cheniere Energy LNG.A and Venture Global LNG plants, LSEG data showed.
Europe remained the principal buyer of U.S. LNG with an 8 percentage point rise to 60% of all U.S. LNG exports last month. Asia customers accounted for 20% of exports, from 30% a month earlier, and Latin America took 5% of cargoes, from 8% in September.Europe has been taking more U.S. gas after Russia cut pipeline supplies and countries shunned its energy exports over its invasion of Ukraine.
Underground gas storage facilities in Europe are nearly full and some Asian LNG buyers have "shown reluctance to buy LNG recently," consultancy Rystad Energy said in a note on Wednesday.
Asia benchmark LNG prices are up 70% since the start of August, according to Morgan Stanley, on supply concerns, maintenance in Norway gas fields, and labor strife in Australia.
It expects elevated global inventories and weaker demand could gradually push prices lower under a normal winter in the northern hemisphere.
Global production output gains should continue, LNG shipping and brokering firm Poten & Partners said on Tuesday, noting plants that could generate 100 MTPA of LNG, are under construction in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
(Reuters - Reporting by Curtis Williams; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)