Freeport LNG, the operator of one of the largest U.S. export plants producing liquefied gas, announced it will shut for at least three weeks following an explosion at its Texas Gulf Coast facility yesterday. Freeport reported all employees and contractors were accounted for and no injuries were reported after the explosion. The cause of the explosion is unknown, but the incident has since been contained and an investigation is underway.
Surfside residents who live nearby said they heard and felt the explosion. A nearby beach and park were evacuated. “We were in our home. We felt the ground shake and it was like rolling thunder. That’s what it sounded like. My husband flew out the door and said ‘there’s an explosion over at the LNG,” Maribel Hill told KHOU. Melanie Oldham, a Freeport resident and a founder of Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Water in Brazoria County, warned in a statement that the next disaster could be worse. “This is dangerous business,” she said. “What kind of air monitoring are they doing out there? Will they even be able to tell what the explosion released? And will they tell us?”
Freeport LNG provides approximately 20% of all U.S. LNG processing, raising the risk of shortages, especially in Europe. Methane gas prices reached $9.19 earlier this week, a 14-year high. Today, European gas prices surged as much as 36% higher, based on concerns the explosion may reduce exports to the Continent. In the US, the unrelenting heat wave across the southwest, from California to Texas, is expected to cause gas prices to continue to climb. If the trend continues, analysts predict domestic gas prices could hit double digits, further raising costs for consumers. (Explosion: Houston Chronicle, Telemundo Houston, Reuters, KHOU11, Houston Chronicle, ABC13 Houston, KRPC, Financial Times $; Gas Prices: Reuters, Market Watch, Bloomberg, The Advocate, Houston Chronicle, Axios)