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Freeport LNG Terminal Explosion Sparked 450-Foot-High Fireball, Report Says

Freeport LNG’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Texas experienced an explosion last month that created a massive 450-feet-high fireball and had a section of pipe at the facility under inspection several weeks before the incident, according to Bloomberg

A new filing published on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s website sheds light on the accident at the second-largest US LNG export plant, which was consuming about 2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of natural gas before it shut on June 8.

IFO Group LLC, a Texas-based fire & explosion, and risk management consultancy, is preparing a release of a report to Freeport and federal regulators by the end of this month about the events that unfolded before the explosion. 

Contractors performing maintenance work on a storage tank reported hearing unusual sounds the morning of the blast, according to the filing. Plant officials responded by conducting an inspection, but didn’t observe any anomalies. The sounds were reported two days after an investigation into a nearby “pipe movement.”

The explosion happened along a 700-foot section of pipe where LNG had become trapped, causing pressure to build. The ensuing rupture released a cloud of gas that ignited. The fireball lasted for 5 to 7 seconds, while the fire burned for 30 minutes. Contractors with the firm Puffer-Sweiven performed routine tests in April on a pressure safety valve that’s part of the same system of pipes that subsequently failed. The equipment passed inspection, but Freeport LNG is investigating if a related valve was left closed after the tests. — Bloomberg 

Bloomberg data shows the terminal impacts 20% of all US LNG exports, much of which has been designated to supply-stricken Europe. Freeport LNG has said the facility could reopen by October, but some analysts have pointed out that the facility could remain closed for much longer

“The actual process (of reviews, repairs and approvals) will take longer than three months, and potentially take six to 12 months,” said Alex Munton, director of global gas and LNG at consultants Rapidan Energy Group.

The silver lining is low US stockpiles are being filled up as the export plant in Texas has left more natgas on the grid. This is bad news for Europe.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 07/13/2022 – 18:40
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