Houston-area natural gas plant will shut down for at least 3 weeks after explosion

The closure could have a significant effect on energy prices with increased summer demand on the way.

The Freeport LNG plant on Quintana Island is seen here on Google Maps. 

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The Freeport LNG natural gas plant on Quintana Island, about 70 miles south of Houston, will shut down for at least three weeks following an explosion that took place late Wednesday morning, according to Reuters.

No one was injured in the blast, and all employees and contractors are accounted for, but the facility produces about 20 percent of U.S. liquid natural gas processing, the Guardian reports, so news that operations would not resume for weeks was a blow to global energy markets. Meanwhile, natural gas prices in Europe rose by about 20 percent on Thursday over concerns over U.S. supply. The closure could have a substantial effect on energy prices with increased summer demand, according to the Washington Post.

Even just in the hours after the explosion on Wednesday afternoon, prices fell nearly 30 cents as news broke, Jamison Cocklin of Natural Gas Intelligence reported. Natural gas prices in the U.S. had reached a 14-year record just before the incident.

The blast happened at the Freeport LNG plant at Quintana around 11:40 a.m.Wednsday, Lt. Ian Patin of the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office said. Authorities issued a voluntary evacuation for Quintana residents, according to The Facts reporter Raven Wuebker.

At some point after the explosion, black smoke could be seen rising from the plant, but the fire was extinguished within a few hours. 

The Quintana facility is relatively new, according to NS Energy. The first of four natural gas liquefaction units on site started up for the first time in 2019, while two others started up in early 2020. Work on a fourth natural gas liquefaction unit is reportedly underway, although it is unclear how the explosion might hinder that timeline. 

The incident comes amid the rise of U.S. natural gas exports as the Russian aggression in Ukraine unfolds, which disrupted worldwide markets. 

An earlier version stated that Quintana residents were forced to evacuate. Only those who were at the nearby beach and park were forced to evacuate. 

This article was updated June 9.

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