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Australia becomes world’s largest LNG exporter

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Australia has officially become the world’s largest exporter of LNG on an annualised basis. In sending overseas – an estimated record 77.514 million t of locally produced LNG in calendar 2019 – Australia edged out former number one LNG export titleholder, Qatar, expected to produce 75 million t in 2019.

The 2019 Australian LNG exports were more than twice those of the US, the world’s other fast-growing LNG producer. The US Energy Information Administration expects the US to have exported 34.3 million t in 2019.

The Australian contribution came from across all three now fully established LNG hubs at Karratha in Western Australia, Gladstone in central Queensland and Darwin in the Northern Territory – home of both the Ichthys and Darwin LNG projects.

Total Australian 2019 LNG shipments were up by 11.4% on 2018, primarily due to the growth in production from the Ichthys project, operated by Japan’s INPEX.

Western Australian production was steady on 2018 and Queensland production was up by 8.2% to 22.4 million t, with both APLNG and QCLNG operating at close to full capacity.

EnergyQuest Chief Executive, Dr Graeme Bethune, said that while Qatar’s final production figures for 2019 were yet to be produced, Australian operational capacity of 88 million t now substantially exceeds the 77 million t of its Middle Eastern rival.

“The record Australian performance for last year is 2.5 million t above the forecast of Qatar 2019 production of 75 million t, contained in the December 2019 Australian Government Resources and Energy Quarterly,” Dr 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 87.8 million t. However, with only 88% of total nameplate capacity used over 2019, there remains opportunity going forward to lift the current production milestone even higher.”

“For example, the Shell-operated Prelude floating LNG project offshore WA is only expected to reach full capacity in 2020.”

On a percentage basis, the Northern Territory proved a strong performer for 2019, lifting sold output 153% to more than 10.5 million t from 4.15 million t the previous year.

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 WA, followed by the two Chevron-operated WA projects, Gorgon and Wheatstone.

The largest percentage growth was the Northern Territory’s Ichthys LNG project, producing 7.529 million t in calendar 2019 – up 900% in a year from its commissioning volumes in 2018.

Western Australia alone is now the world’s second largest LNG producer with Queensland ranking a significant sixth. The new data underpins the emergence of the Northern Territory as the third force in Australian LNG, producing 14% of Australia’s 2019 LNG exports.

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