The opening of the Golden Pass LNG terminal in the US is reportedly likely be delayed by hurricane damage, while Britain’s South Hook LNG terminal now looks set to open in early 2009, an executive from ExxonMobil indicated recently.

While it is known that hurricane damage sustained earlier this year is likely to entail setbacks, the extent of this is still largely uncertain and it cannot yet be clarified whether this will push start-up of the Golden Pass terminal into 2010.

The Golden Pass terminal near Sabine Pass is expected to be 70% owned by Qatar Petroleum, with ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips each owning a share of the rest, according to the terminal website.

LNG for the terminal in Texas is expected to come mainly from Qatar’s Ras Laffan 3 and Qatargas 3 projects, though a report from Reuters suggests delays to its opening are likely.

“There has been some damage and there is more likely than not to be a delay ... it’s just not clear how long that will be,” ExxonMobil’s President of LNG market development, Tom Cordano, is reported to have said of the project, which had been expected to be completed in mid-2009.

The South Hook terminal in Wales meanwhile, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum, Exxon and France’s Total, had been expected to open the first half of 2008 but Exxon said in May it would likely be the second half of the year before it would start taking cargoes of the super-cooled gas.

The next big developments are now expected in early 2009.

Britain has two functioning LNG import facilities, but more are being built to help meet growing demand for imported gas as Britain’s own production declines.

South Hook and BG Group’s nearby Dragon LNG terminal, which had also been scheduled to open before this winter but has not yet started taking cargoes, are seen as key to keeping Britain well supplied with heating fuel during peak winter demand days.