Natural gas flowing to Freeport LNG's export plant in Texas was on track to hit a five-month high on May 17, LSEG data showed, with a liquefaction train expected to return from a brief upset on May 16.

The startup and shutdown of Freeport and other U.S. LNG export plants often has a major impact on global gas prices.

U.S. gas futures at the Henry Hub benchmark NGc1 in Louisiana have soared by around 59% over the past three weeks, due in part to the increase in feedgas at Freeport after it exited an outage in late April.

U.S. gas futures were trading at a 16-week high of $2.56 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on May 17.

Gas flows to the seven big U.S. LNG export plants rose from an average of 11.9 Bcf/d in April to 12.7 Bcf/d so far in May with the return of Freeport's 2.1-Bcf/d plant in Texas.

That compares with a monthly record high of 14.7 Bcf/d in December.

On a daily basis, LNG feedgas was on track to rise from 12.6 Bcf/d on May 16 to 13.2 Bcf/d on May 17 with flows to Freeport expected to reach 2.1 Bcf/d on May 17, the most since November 2023, after a brief one-day reduction to 1.5 Bcf/d on May 16.

Gas flows to Freeport average about 2.0 Bcf/d over the prior seven days (May 8-15).

Energy traders said that brief reduction at Freeport on May 16 was likely due to the trip of a liquefaction train.

Freeport said Train 2 experienced a trip on May 16 due to a compressor issue, according to a report the company filed with Texas environmental regulators.

Officials at Freeport had no comment on the plant status.

Each of Freeport's three liquefaction trains can turn about 0.7 Bcf/d of gas into LNG.

One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.