Combined exports from Australia’s three LNG hubs surged 18.5 per cent in June, according to a recent report by EnergyQuest.
The June Monthly LNG Report revealed total June output climbed to 3.6 million tonnes (Mt) – a surge of 560,000 tonnes over the May total with strong contributions from North West Shelf (NWS) and Pluto plants in Western Australia and the QCLNG project at Gladstone on the Queensland coast.
And despite low oil and LNG prices, Australia’s six LNG projects all maintained high levels of production in June, in many cases above nameplate capacity.
The ramping up Queensland plants consumed 87 petajoules (PJ) of conventional and coal seam gas during June, contributing to a short-term domestic gas price hike on the east coast as it shivered under unduly cold winter conditions.
“The strong growth in Australia’s June LNG exports reflects a full month of resumed production from the Woodside-operated NWS, which underwent planned maintenance in May, together with particularly strong performance from Woodside’s Pluto project (WA) and Shell’s QCLNG project in Gladstone,” EnergyQuest CEO Dr Graeme Bethune said today.
“We expect further growth in Australian LNG exports over the next six months as the second trains of the GLNG and APLNG projects come into production and the Chevron-operated Gorgon project in WA begins to ramp-up.”
Remarkable Queensland achievement
Total LNG export volumes out of Queensland, of 1.4 Mt (22 cargoes) in June, are now starting to shadow those of Western Australia, which exported 1.8 Mt (27 cargoes) in June.
“The growth in Queensland exports is quite remarkable given that its first LNG project only commenced exporting 18 months ago,” Dr Bethune said.
The Northern Territory exported 0.3 Mt of LNG (five cargoes) from the Darwin LNG project in June.
Northern Territory exports will start growing from late next year when the INPEX Ichthys in Darwin also starts production.
Australian cargo to Egypt
EnergyQuest estimates that forty-four cargoes were delivered from Australian projects in June, mostly to traditional north Asian customers ( 22 to Japan, 15 to China, two to Korea and one to Taiwan) but there were also two cargoes each to India (where LNG demand is growing) and to Egypt.
Indian and Chinese LNG markets growing but continuing weakness in Japan and Korea
The latest market data available (for May) shows total Indian LNG imports (from all countries) up by 0.45 Mt in May, and 40% higher than May 2015, reflecting the strong growth in India’s LNG sector seen all year (+2.2 Mt, +41% in the first five months of 2016).
Chinese LNG imports grew by 27 per cent in May compared with a year earlier. Total Japanese and Korean LNG imports continue to fall, down 4 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively in May 2016 compared with May 2015.
US LNG exports so far focussed on the Atlantic rather than Pacific Basin
The new Sabine Pass LNG project on the US Gulf Coast shipped five commissioning cargoes in June. Most Sabine Pass cargoes are going south to countries in South America, with no cargoes yet to North Asia and only one cargo to Europe (Portugal).
A second European-bound cargo is currently heading to Spain. Sabine Pass continues to ramp up at about the same rate as APLNG. The first commercial delivery under the Shell/BG contract commences in November.
Australian domestic gas markets
Short-term east coast gas prices spiked in June, reflecting cold weather in the south and the ramp-up of LNG projects in Queensland. LNG prices were below short-term domestic gas prices.
However, the three Queensland LNG projects continued to operate at high levels, consuming 87 petajoules (PJ) of conventional and coal seam gas during the month.
The Gorgon domestic gas plant in WA is not yet producing.