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First LNG Cargo Leaves $15 Billion Site as U.S. Exports Grow

Naureen S. Malik

(Bloomberg) -- The first cargo of liquefied natural gas has set sail from a $15 billion Texas export terminal, amplifying America’s growing influence on the global market for the fuel.

LNG Jurojin departed Freeport LNG Development LP’s facility on Tuesday, according to a statement from the company, making the terminal the fifth to ship super-chilled gas from U.S. shale fields. Royal Dutch Shell Plc will take the first two deliveries from Freeport, according to a person familiar with the matter. The cargo is headed for the Jebel Ali terminal in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, ship-tracking data on Bloomberg show.

Since the first U.S. LNG export terminal began operating in Louisiana in 2016, the nation has become the world’s third-largest supplier of the fuel, sending gas to buyers as distant as Japan. The startup of Freeport has provided a key outlet for Texas production, helping to boost gas prices from 1990s-era seasonal lows.

America may surpass Qatar and Australia to become the biggest exporter by 2025, according to Morgan Stanley. But a global glut is threatening the derail the next wave of U.S. LNG projects, while trade tensions have thwarted developers’ efforts to sign long-term contracts with Chinese buyers.

Freeport is seeking to build four LNG production units, or trains, with a capacity of more than 20 million tons per year, most of which is contracted under 20-year supply agreements. Train 1 was previously slated to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2018, but was delayed amid contractor snags.

(Updates to add destination of first cargo in second paragraph)

--With assistance from Anna Shiryaevskaya.

To contact the reporter on this story: Naureen S. Malik in New York at nmalik28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net, Christine Buurma, Carlos Caminada

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