April 22, 2009 / 6:01 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Elba Island to import 7 LNG cargoes in April

(Adds detail on Cove Point imports, par 9)

NEW YORK, April 22 (Reuters) - The Elba Island liquefied natural gas terminal in Georgia is set to receive seven cargoes of the super-cooled gas in April, compared to three in March, according to AISLive ship tracking data on Reuters.

The uptick marks a wider increase of LNG heading to U.S. shores as demand in Europe and Asia wanes just as new production projects come online.

The cargoes, all sourced by BG Group BG.L, have mostly come from Egypt, but the last arrival, expected on April 29, will be from Trinidad, according to the data.

The 145,000-cubic-meter Maran Gas Asclepius was last seen on Wednesday anchored in the Caribbean Sea, and is expected to arrive on the same day as the Bluesky tanker from Egypt, according to the data.

While the Elba Island terminal cannot offload two cargoes at once, it has the docking space to accommodate two tankers. Once an expansion is complete next year, two cargoes will be able to offload at the same time, a spokesman for the terminal said.

These two tankers will follow the Neo Energy, expected on Thursday, and the Golar Freeze, which arrived on Tuesday, according to the data.

Before them, three other tankers arrived earlier in the month.

This coincides with increased imports to other terminals that sat largely idle last winter, including the Cove Point terminal in Maryland, and Lake Charles and Sabine Pass in Louisiana. [ID:nN20394340]

The LNG Edo tanker from Nigeria is expected to arrive at Cove Point on Wednesday, the data showed, which could be followed by BP’s British Trader on May 4.

Analysts have forecast an increase in LNG imports to the United States this summer as the recession cuts demand in Asia and, to a lesser extent, Europe, leaving more LNG for the United States to absorb.

Utilities in Japan and Korea, the world’s two largest importers, bought less LNG last year as demand for gas and power fell, a trend that has carried over into this year.

And while Europe is currently able to absorb some of the gas to help fill depleted stores, the United States is already seeing more LNG heading its way.

“It is apparent to us that the European gas markets are saturated,” said Pan EurAsian Enterprise analysts in a note Wednesday.

“This explains why the LNG is now starting to come to the U.S. It has long been expected by many, but the proof is finally appearing in the pudding.” (Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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