Australia to become biggest LNG exporter in 2019

Country expected to marginally surpass Qatar as world’s largest LNG exporter in 2019: Australian office of chief economist

Murat Temizer  | 25.12.2019 - Update : 25.12.2019
Australia to become biggest LNG exporter in 2019 file photo


Australia's LNG exports are expected to rise to 79 million tonnes (87 million tons) by the end of this year, making the country the top LNG exporter in the world, according to the country’s new Resources and Energy Quarterly (REQ) on Tuesday.

REQ contains the Australian Office of the Chief Economist’s forecasts for the value, volume and price of the country's major resources and energy commodity exports.

According to REQ, Australia's exported 75 million tonnes of LNG in 2018 but thanks to the latest two LNG projects, Prelude and Ichthys, this is expected to increase to 78 million tonnes by the end of 2019.

"Export volumes are forecast to hold steady at 81 million tonnes in 2020–21," according to REQ economists.

The report revealed that throughout 2019, Australia and Qatar competed for the title of the world’s largest LNG exporter.

"On current estimates, Australia is expected to marginally edge past Qatar as the world’s largest LNG exporter in 2019, shipping an estimated 78 million tonnes of LNG compared with an estimated 75 million tonnes from Qatar," it stated.

The country has a nameplate capacity of 88 million tonnes.

Qatar was the main exporter of LNG in 2018 with 76.8 million tonnes, followed by Australia, Malaysia and the U.S. However, the report by the Australian Office of the Chief Economist also advised the lack of clarity around the precise level of Qatar’s LNG exports.

"Whatever the case, Australia’s LNG exports are expected to be surpassed by both Qatar and the U.S. during the mid-2020s," it noted

In November, Qatar Petroleum announced plans to construct another two LNG ‘mega trains’, which would increase Qatar’s LNG production capacity by 64% to 126 million tonnes by 2027.

These plans are expected to solidify Qatar’s position as the world’s top LNG exporter by the late-2020s.

Lower oil prices = Lower LNG prices for Australia

According to REQ, the value of Australia’s LNG exports is forecast to decline from AUD50 billion ($34.6 billion) in 2018–19 to AUD49 billion ($33.8 billion) in 2019–20, driven by declining oil-linked contract prices.

Most of Australia’s LNG exports are sold on an oil-linked basis.

During 2017-18, Australian LNG exports were valued at AUD31 billion ($21.4 billion), the majority of which went to Japan at 43%, while China received 35% and South Korea 11%.

The report drew attention to the supply growth in the global LNG market, which has resulted in the lowering of prices.

According to REQ, supply growth is expected to slow dramatically in the early 2020s, as the ramp-up of new capacity in the U.S., Australia and Russia draws to a close.

Demand is consequently expected to begin closing the gap on global production capacity in 2021, driving spot prices higher.

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