New research from the US-based Energy International Agency (EIA) highlights the scale of Australia’s LNG ambitions, noting that the country will add 61.5 million tonnes a year (mta) of new liquefaction capacity between 2014 and 2017, bringing its total to 85.4 mta, equal to a third of the volume traded globally last year.
The EIA expects Australia to add 23.2 mta of liquefaction capacity next year, and 26.2 mta in 2017 and to overtake Qatar and Malaysia to become the world’s largest exporter of LNG by 2019.
More than 90 per cent of Australia’s new liquefaction capacity is contracted to Pacific Basin buyers, the EIA reports. Japan takes 35 per cent of Australia’s existing supply and will take 46 per cent of volumes from the next wave of projects. China will take 23 per cent of the new liquefaction capacity.The EIA predicts that Australia will sell 15 mta into the general market and in June, Egypt took delivery of its first Australian LNG cargo, receiving a 159,760mɜ shipment from Woodside Petroleum’s Pluto and Northwest Shelf LNG plants, loaded at the port of Dampier.
Some observers say Australia has an opportunity to export further afield and that in targeting buyers in Europe and the Middle East it will boost tonne-mile demand, helping to absorb the 30-40 LNG carriers laid up this year due to surplus shipping capacity.“Already, some cargoes coming on stream from Australia and Indonesia meant for Japan, South Korea and China are starting to come west,” Golar LNG chief executive Gary Smith told LNG World Shipping this week. “The trading pattern is moving in a westerly direction right now.”Australia has brought two of the three Curtis Island, Queensland export projects on stream in the last 12 months.
Queensland Curtis LNG and Gladstone LNG have started to export and the third, Australia Pacific, will come online within months. All three use coalbed methane to make LNG.Western Australia’s Gorgon, Prelude, Wheatstone and Ichthys LNG projects should also start to export by 2018.