The Ichthys project. Image: INPEX.
By Elizabeth Fabri
AUSTRALIAN liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports will surge to 60 million tonnes in 2017, a 63 per cent increase from 2016, according to new market analysis by EnergyQuest.
The independent energy consultancy firm’s comments came as Australian LNG exports climbed 37.7 per cent in 2016 to 36.8mt; 10.1mt above the 26.7mt shipped in 2015.
EnergyQuest said performance this calendar year was expected to be even stronger with APLNG and Gorgon continuing their ramp ups, and Wheatstone and Ichthys entering production.
“The growth of LNG exports is a massive benefit to the Australian economy,” EnergyQuest stated.
“Notwithstanding the lower oil price environment present through much of last year, EnergyQuest estimates the total value of Australian LNG exports as $17.9 billion in 2016.
“This is an 8.6 per cent dollar increase over the previous year.
“Oil prices (to which LNG prices are linked) are now around 25 per cent higher than the 2016 average, reflecting recent decisions by OPEC.
“If current oil prices are maintained, EnergyQuest estimates that the value of Australian LNG exports will double to around $36 billion in 2017.”
EnergyQuest said there had been particularly strong demand for LNG in North Asia, with Japan remaining as Australia’s largest customer taking 48 per cent of 2016 cargoes, with China a close second taking 30 per cent of cargoes.
Korea was noted as an emerging buyer receiving 53 cargoes, while India received a total of 16 cargoes.
High spot prices are also attracting US LNG cargoes into North Asia.
“Shipments from the Sabine Pass project on the US Gulf Coast, which were mostly going to South America, are now overwhelmingly heading to North Asia with nine of the 12 December loadings heading there,” EnergyQuest chief executive Dr Graeme Bethune said.
“However, this does not appear to be adversely affecting Australian exports, which are also well positioned to take advantage of high spot prices.”