Australia has broken through the 50 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) LNG export barrier for the first time in the 12 months to June 30. In addition, cargoes of LNG from the Lucky Country are forecast to grow 22.6% in the 2017-2018 financial year.
The milestone was revealed in a June LNG report by energy consultant EnergyQuest, which stated Australia exported 51.4 mtpa of LNG in the 2016-17 financial year.
The latest figures reveal a 37% spike in LNG exports from the 2016 output of 37.5 mtpa. EnergyQuest predicts the current volume in Australia will grow to 63 mtpa by June 30, 2018—just below the 63.8 mtpa forecast by the Office of the Chief Economist.
The sales volumes of LNG exports for fiscal-year 2017 (FY17) have been estimated at AU$22.3 billion (US$17.8 billion), a 29% increase from the AU$16.6 billion (US$13.3 billion) yield from the previous corresponding year.
EnergyQuest said Australia continues to hold its own in key North Asian markets against Qatar, the world’s largest LNG exporter, and rapidly rising exports from the U.S.
“Over FY17 production increased from almost every Australian LNG project and both Western Australia and Queensland boosted their state outputs to higher levels,” said EnergyQuest CEO Graeme Bethune, . “The exceptions were Darwin LNG (down 0.9 mtpa) and QCLNG (down 0.7 mtpa) 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 toward year’s close.”
In June the Pluto, Darwin and Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) plants all produced above nameplate capacity. APLNG produced 110% of nameplate.
EnergyQuest noted the national LNG export output would rise further over coming months with Gorgon shipments out of Western Australia accelerating. The Chevron-led Wheatstone plant is scheduled to begin LNG production in August with first exports in September and the Inpex Ichthys project is due to begin production in 2018.
On the international sales front, Japan, China and Korea continue to be dominant destinations for Australian exports, comprising 91% of deliveries in June. Australia remains the largest LNG supplier to Japan and China and the second-largest to Korea, after Qatar.
During May Australia supplied 44% of Chinese LNG imports, 31% of Japanese imports and 21% of Korean imports.
Global LNG exports reached a record 258 mtpa peak in 2016, representing a 13 mtpa increase from 2015, according to the International Gas Union (IGU). Eighteen countries exported LNG in 2016 led by Qatar, producing 77.2 mtpa and representing 30% of the world’s LNG, followed by Australia, Malaysia (25.9 mtpa) and Nigeria (18.6 mpta).
The IGU said the prime driver behind global production peaking was Australia’s Gorgon Train 1 and Train 2 coming onstream, ramped up production at APLNG and additional trains coming online at Gladstone LNG and Queensland Curtis LNG on the east coast. In the U.S. maiden LNG cargoes flowing from Sabine Pass 1 and 2 added to the global total.
The IGU predicts Australia will surpass Qatar in 2018 as the world’s top LNG producer, but the Australian federal government has adopted a more conservative timeline, forecasting full capacity of 77 mtpa by 2011 from Australia as Qatar output drops to 75 mtpa.