March 7, 2023

Three of France's four LNG import terminals come offline for a week amid national strike

Three out of the four LNG import terminals in France are offline for a week amid a national strike affecting multiple sectors in the country. The terminals affected represent over 60% of the French LNG import capacity. LNG is essential for the security of supply of France and its regional neighbours.

The Elengy-operated Fos Cavaou, Fos Tonkin, and Montoir terminals are offline since Mar. 6 at 13:00 local time and until Mar. 14, Elengy told Kpler on Mar. 7. The three terminals have a combined import capacity of 16 mtpa.

A rolling national strike against the government’s reform to delay the pension age is currently affecting multiple sectors in France including trains, ports, refineries, nuclear plants, and LNG terminals.

Montoir is planned to receive 10 cargos this month, up from 8 last month, Fos Tonkin is scheduled to receive 4 this month up from 3 last month, and Fos Cavaou is set to receive 13 up from 10 last month, the terminals’ schedules show.

The 173,400 m3 Maran Gas Olympias was scheduled to deliver 158,489 m3 from the US at Montoir on Mar. 9 but turned away from the terminal on Mar. 7 in the morning after waiting just outside it since Mar. 3, Kpler data show.

The 174,000 m3 Minerva Amorgos was initially scheduled to discharge a 155,142 m3 US cargo at one of the two Fos terminals on Mar. 9 but turned away instead of entering the Mediterranean Sea on Mar. 7.

The 137,200 m3 LNG Sokoto was also initially heading to Fos Cavaou to discharge 130,325 m3 from Nigeria on Mar. 12 but is now heading to the UK’s Isle of Grain instead.

Sonatrach’s 74,500 m3 Global Energy was scheduled to deliver an Algerian cargo at Fos on Mar. 7 but turned away from the terminals on Mar. 7 in the morning and is now heading to Spain’s Barcelona terminal.

Overall, France could lose about 1 mt of LNG supplies that were planned to arrive between Mar. 6-14 at the three terminals. Losses could rise to about 1.3 mt if France’s fourth terminal also comes offline for the same period. It was unclear at the time of publishing whether France’s fourth and largest terminal, Dunkerque, was also offline. The terminal’s operator had not replied to Kpler by publishing time.

The 161,870 m3 Maran Gas Alexandria was scheduled to unload a 144,784 m3 US cargo at Dunkerque on Mar. 7 at 9:00 pm but the vessel slowed down as it got closer to the terminal around 8-9:00 pm, Kpler data show.

Dunkerque is key for the security of supply of the Northern half of France as there is limited transmission capacity between the north and the South of France and the country has repeatedly struggled to balance its grid this winter. The main challenge was transporting enough gas from the South of the country where there are multiple terminals and access to Spanish terminals to the North of the country where the demand is concentrated. So the shutdown of the French terminals could potentially reinforce this challenge.

Dunkerque is also important for supplies to Germany as it is the closest terminal to France’s direct pipeline connection with Germany. Germany’s reliance on French LNG imports is important as Germany is facing delays in the commissioning of its third LNG terminal. France sends some of its regasified LNG to Germany which has grown heavily reliant on LNG since it stopped receiving Russian pipeline gas last summer.

With about 25.6 mtpa of import capacity, France has the second-largest LNG import capacity in the European Union after Spain.

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