The Texas environmental regulator has fined liquified natural gas (LNG) exporter Freeport LNG $152,173 for violating state air pollution emissions rules between 2019 and 2021.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said on 11 April that Freeport LNG had released carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds over several years in excess of the permitted levels from flaring at the plant in Quintana.

Freeport LNG was the second-largest US LNG exporter, with installed capacity of 15 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), but it has recently suffered from a series of outages, the result of a fire that caused the plant to be shut down from June 2022 to February 2023.

Furthermore, the Train 1 and 2 liquefaction units at the Texas plant have been closed for repairs and are expected to be back online by May. The closures mean the plant is currently operating well below capacity. Each of the trains can change around 700 million cubic feet per day (mcf/d) of gas into LNG.

According to the company, after the maintenance work, its production capacity will increase by 10% from 15mtpa to just over 16.5mtpa by June.

The two trains were taken offline after Train 3 came back online, having been out of service after cold weather damaged its motors in January.

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The TCEQ said Freeport LNG’s penalty could be reduced to $121,739 if the company addressed the environment violations quickly and agreed to take steps to prevent future emissions releases.

On Tuesday, Freeport LNG reported that the liquefaction plant had remained mostly offline for a fifth straight day, with gas utilisation rates at 125mcf/d, 5% of its fully operational use.

According to data seen by Reuters, natural gas utilisation in February and part of March for Freeport fell to around 1.3 billion cubic feet per day.