HOUSTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The first cargo of liquefied natural gas sourced from inland shale basins in the United States is on its way to Brazil, shipping monitors confirmed.
Shipping monitor Genscape confirmed vessel Asia Vision left its port at Sabine Pass, La., around 8:30 p.m. local time Wednesday with the first cargo ever of U.S. LNG to the export market. The monitoring company said Brazilian state-run energy company Petrobras was the likely customer.
Cheniere Energy Partners, which operates the Sabine Pass liquefaction plant in Cameron Parish, La., said in a statement the loading marked a new era for the U.S. LNG sector.
"This historic event opens a new chapter for the country in energy trade and is a significant milestone for Cheniere," board Chairman Neal Shear said in a statement.
A special permit is needed to send LNG to countries like Brazil that don't have a free-trade agreement with the United States and the Energy Department said the amount of exports sent from the plant would not violate the public's interest.
Cheniere and French energy company EDF signed sales agreements for up to 26 cargoes of LNG from the Sabine Pass export terminal through 2019. The French company said securing U.S. gas would help diversify a European energy sector that depends heavily on Russia.
The $18 billion Sabine Pass terminal has six processing centers that can each produce about 4.5 million tons per year of liquefied natural gas.
Supporters of LNG exports say it would provide a source of economic stimulus and increase U.S. leverage overseas. A federal U.S. study found the "effects on overall economic growth [from the emerging LNG market] were positive but modest."