Australian LNG exports forecast to soar

Australia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are forecast to grow 22.6 per cent in the 2018 financial year.

In its June report, consultancy, EnergyQuest, revealed Australia broke the 50 million tonnes (Mt) barrier for the first time in the 2017 financial year by exporting 51.4Mt of LNG.

EnergyQuest expects Australia to exceed this mark in the new financial year, forecasting growth in exports to 63Mt by June 30 next year – just below the Chief Economist’s 63.8Mt estimate.

The 2017 performance was a 37 per cent increase on the previous year’s exports of 37.5Mt.

EnergyQuest estimates the sales value of the 2017 financial year’s LNG exports to be $22.3 billion – significantly higher than the previous year’s $16.6 billion.

The EnergyQuest report found that Australia continues to more than hold its own in key North Asian markets against Qatar, the world’s largest LNG exporter, and rapidly rising exports from the United States.

“Over FY17, production increased from almost every Australian LNG project and both Western Australia and Queensland boosted their state outputs to higher levels,” EnergyQuest chief executive officer Graeme Bethune said.

“The exceptions were Darwin LNG (down 0.9Mt) and Queensland Curtis LNG (down 0.7Mt) compared to their previous 12 months performance.

“With rising Australian LNG export volumes, we are seeing the sector’s total export revenue increasing quickly, including record monthly levels towards year’s close.”

In June, the Pluto, Darwin and Australia Pacific LNG plants all produced at above nameplate capacity. APLNG produced at 110 per cent of nameplate.

EnergyQuest noted that national LNG export output would rise further over coming months, with Gorgon shipments out of Western Australia now accelerating.

WA’s Wheatstone plant is also set to launch production next month, with first exports in September this year, and Darwin’s Ichthys project is due to commence production in 2018.

On the international sales front, Japan, China and Korea continue to be the dominant destinations for Australian exports, comprising 91 per cent per cent of deliveries in June.

Australia continues to be the largest LNG supplier to Japan and China and the second-largest to Korea after Qatar.

For May, Australia supplied 44 per cent of Chinese LNG imports, 31 per cent of Japanese imports and 21 per cent of Korean imports.

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