Australian LNG exports are set to triple by the end of the decade and overtake Qatar’s, a bullish Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told delegates at the LNG18 conference in Perth this week, although its export markets are likely to be confined to the Asia Pacific. By 2020, he predicted that Australia would be supplying China and Japan with 40% of all their LNG imports and South Korea with 25% of theirs.
His optimism was not shared by all conference delegates, with Chevron chief John Watson pointing out that liquefaction costs in Australia were 50% higher than in the US due to a combination of factors including labour costs and practices, restrictive environmental policies and taxes.
Chevron recently completed the first of three planned processing lines at its $55bn Gorgon LNG project on Barrow Island in northwest Western Australia and is well into the construction of its Wheatsone LNG project near Onslow, also in Western Australia.
Chevron’s Australian projects not the only new LNG facilities due to come on stream this year, however, with the US-based Cheniere company confident that its Sabine Pass terminal in the Gulf of Mexico will be operational by 2017.
Speaking at the same conference, Argus Media Vice President Vyacheslav Mishchenko also pointed out there was already an overcapacity in the market with Qatar, Australia, Malaysia, Nigeria and Algeria between then pouring 300 million tons of LNG into a total global market estimated at between 240 and 250 million tons. New facilities with a total capacity of a further 133 million tonnes have also been commissioned and are due to come on stream in 2018.