A major liquefied natural gas exporter in Texas, Freeport LNG, said Friday that statements posted earlier in the day on Twitter and other social media using fake, Freeport-branded letterhead were “false information,” adding it hasn’t issued any recent statements regarding a restart of its liquefaction plant.
“Any Tweets and/or posts on Freeport LNG branded letterhead that may have been obtained or published, are reporting false information and are not legitimate, official public information from Freeport LNG,” the company said in a statement on its website.
Privately owned Freeport LNG operates on Texas’s Gulf Coast and is one of seven liquefied natural gas export facilities in the U.S. It had to shut down its plant in June due to an explosion and fire, and hasn’t reopened yet. It said in August that it anticipated an initial restart by early-to-mid November.
The Freeport plant’s shutdown reduces total U.S. LNG export capacity by approximately 2 billion cubic feet per day, or 17% of total U.S. LNG export capacity. As such, the shutdown and speculation about when exactly it will restart has been a hot topic in natural gas futures trading markets.
That speculation ratcheted up sharply Friday morning, when a Twitter account, @Lithium_Plays, made several unconfirmed statements regarding Freeport that were widely shared by other Twitter accounts, including a top, so-called energy Twitter influencer, an oil analyst for a major international bank whose account has 64,000 followers. But those tweets by @Lithium_Plays were then quickly deleted.
Shortly thereafter, another account, @rr9b250, Tweeted a screenshot that seemed to look like it came directly from Freeport LNG, as it was on Freeport LNG letterhead with the same logo colors that one sees on Freeport’s official website. The statement ended with “Sincerely, Freeport LNG Public Relations.”
That statement, which Freeport LNG has now confirmed is false, seemed to be a company response to the @Lithium_Plays account statements, and it also provided some additional information about when Freeport may begin its restart. It, too, was widely shared around Twitter, especially among those who track hashtags such as #natgas and #naturalgas.
While both of the accounts that sent the tweets are unverified, the tweets had a real impact on natural gas prices Friday. Traders noted that front-month prices were 3% higher mid-morning at around $6.424/mmBtu, but then plunged as the tweets were posted and began circulating, and the market eventually closed the session 5.8% lower at $5.879/mmBtu.
Write to Dan Molinski at email@example.com