Increasing exports to China spiked Australian LNG revenue 38% to an estimated $30.8 billion in 2017-2018, largely driven by Chevron’s new Gorgon and Wheatstone projects surging to 60% of nameplate capacity over the past 12 months.
An EnergyQuest report claims that Australian LNG exports soared 18.5% to 59.7 mtpa during the last 12 months with Gorgon and Wheatstone accounting for 41%, or 24.5 mtpa, of shipped cargoes.
Higher export volumes in tandem with the spinoff of LNG cruising in the slipstream of soaring oil prices, served to stimulate Australian-derived cargoes and government royalties.
EnergyQuest said the Gorgon project expanded by 6.9 mtpa to 12.7 mtpa during the year and Wheatstone, which came online in October, delivered 2.1 mtpa. At full capacity of 8.9 mtpa over an estimated 30-year life cycle, Wheatstone has been forecast to produce about 6% of Asia Pacific’s estimated LNG production.
East Coast projects also grew in 2017-2018 led by APLNG, the joint venture consisting of Origin Energy, ConocoPhillips and Sinopec, which expanded 1.5 mtpa and the Santos-led GLNG (0.2 mtpa). However, shipments declined for the year from the Shell-operated QCLNG (-0.7 mtpa), ConocoPhillips-operated Darwin LNG (-0.1 mtpa) and the Woodside-driven Pluto (-0.2 mtpa) and North West Shelf (-0.5 mtpa) projects.
First gas from Inpex Corp.’s Ichthys gas field, located 820 km southwest of Darwin, has been delayed for the third time after initial targets set for the end of 2016, mid-2017 and then March this year were all rolled over.
Nevertheless, this did not significantly dent burgeoning Australian cargoes with China accounting for 6.5 mtpa, or 34%, of LNG shipments from the Lucky Country not only from Gladstone, but also west coast projects, according to EnergyQuest.
Japan, however, remains Australia’s biggest LNG customer accounting for 46% of Australian deliveries, increasing by 2.1 million, for the year. Cargoes to Korea grew by 0.5 mtpa and comprised 11% of exports derived from both east and west coast projects in Australia.
Citing vessel tracking data, EnergyQuest claimed the U.S. had supplied about 8.2% of China’s LNG imports for the first five months of this year, representing 22% of U.S. exports. China now weighs in as the world’s second biggest LNG importer, having surpassed South Korea, with Asian demand accounting for 74% of increased global exports in 2017-2018.
According to the International Association of Liquified Natural Gas Importers, global trade soared 10% to 38.2 Bcf/d during the year, representing the largest annual volume increase on record. The biggest contributors to this surplus were Australia and the U.S. Both countries have added a combined 9.67 Bcf/d of new liquefaction over the past five years and have yet to peak with an additional 8.3 Bcf/d coming online within the next three years.
The LNG sellers’ balance sheet had a rosier disposition towards the end of the financial year as Asian spot prices peaked to end a four-month rally at US$11.60/MMBtu in mid-June. Prices have subsequently cooled to US$10.37/MMBtu.
EnergyQuest said LNG export growth had played a significant role in the state of Queensland delivering a $1.5 billion budget surplus for 2017-2018. The Sunshine State has predicted that royalties from the gas sector would hit $1.78 billion by 2021-2022, which is about $1 billion more than had been expected in the basement of depressed oil and gas prices two years ago.