Australia claiming world's top LNG exporter crown for 2019
Consultants report there is headroom for the country to grow its position as new project ramp up
Australia has overtaken gas giant Qatar to the post to become the largest exporter of LNG in 2019, according to an analysis of ship trading data by Australian independent energy consultancy EnergyQuest.
The company said Australia shipped out an estimated record 77.5m tonnes of locally produced LNG in calendar 2019 while former world number one titleholder Qatar’s production figure for the year is expected to be 75m tonnes.
EnergyQuest chief executive Graeme Bethune said that while Qatar’s final production figures for 2019 were yet to be produced, Australian operational capacity of 88m tonnes now substantially exceeds the 77m tonnes of its Middle Eastern rival.
“The record Australian performance for last year is 2.5m tonnes above the forecast of Qatar 2019 production of 75m tonnes, contained in the December 2019 Australian Government Resources and Energy Quarterly,” Bethune said.
“On an annualised basis, we have previously achieved the global title in some individual months but 2019 is the first time Australia has topped global LNG export performance on a sustained annual basis.”
“Australia’s 10 LNG projects have a combined capacity of 87.8m tonnes. However, with only 88% of total nameplate capacity used over 2019, there remains opportunity going forward to lift the current production milestone even higher,” the chief executive said, adding that Shell’s Prelude FLNG is expected to reach full capacity this year.
EnergyQuest said the 2019 Australian LNG exports were more than twice those of the fast-growing producer the US. “The US Energy Information Administration expects the US to have exported 34.3m tonnes in 2019,” it said.
Detailing Australia’s rise, the consultancy said production came from three LNG hubs at Karratha in Western Australia, Gladstone in central Queensland and Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Total Australian 2019 LNG shipments were up by 11.4% on 2018, primarily due to the growth in production from the Inpex-led Ichthys project, EnergyQuest said.
Western Australia continued to dominate the country’s LNG output at 57% of the national total, with Queensland garnering 29% of those exports.
The largest contributing project to Australian LNG exports was the Woodside-operated North West Shelf project in Western Australia followed by the Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone developments in the state.
“Western Australia alone is now the world’s second largest LNG producer,” EnergyQuest said.
But it was the country’s Northern Territory projects that proved the standout expansion performers for 2019, lifting output 153% to over 10.5m tonnes from 4.15m tonnes the previous year with Ichthys LNG producing 7.53m tonnes last year, up 900% in a year from its commissioning volumes in 2018.