Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from Australia increased during the 2018-19 fiscal year as a total of 1,111 cargoes departed the country’s LNG facilities. 

In terms of volumes, Australian LNG exports in FY 2019 reached a total of 75.1 million tonnes 21.2 percent higher than the 61.7 Mt exported in FY 2018, according to a report by energy consultancy EnergyQuest.

Total LNG export revenue in FY 2019 is estimated to be $50.5 billion. LNG is now Australia’s third largest export by value after iron ore and coal, the report shows.

Australia was the world’s second largest LNG exporter in FY 2019, just behind Qatar’s nameplate capacity of 77 Mtpa. Australian production in FY 2020 is likely to pass Qatar when EnergyQuest expects production to be around 80 Mt, boosted by a full year of production from Ichthys and Shell’s Prelude floating LNG project which came online in June.

Most of the growth in production in FY 2019 occurred from projects in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, notably INPEX’s Ichthys project and Chevron’s Wheatstone project.

Queensland exports increased slightly, from 20.5 Mt in FY 2018 to 21.8 Mt in FY 2019. The Queensland LNG projects produced an estimated 43 PJ in excess of export demand.

Japan continued to be the largest buyer of Australian LNG in FY 2019, accounting for 41 percent of exports. However, China is now close behind, with 37 percent of exports. South Korea was the third largest market with 10 percent of exports. Japan is the biggest market for west coast exports but China is the biggest market for Queensland exports, accounting for 72 percent of Curtis Island shipments in FY 2019.

Australia continues to be the largest LNG supplier to Japan and China and the second-largest to South Korea.

June LNG exports

Total Australian LNG shipments in June were 6.2 million tonnes spread over 90 cargoes, down from 6.4 Mt over 94 cargoes in May, due mostly to an unexpected maintenance shutdown at the Pluto project and a week shutdown at Gorgon in the first week of June.

Shell’s Prelude project will further increase Australian production after its first cargo was shipped in mid-June.

Australian projects delivered 32 cargoes to China in June, well down on 38 in May and the same as delivered to Japan.

North Asian spot LNG prices continue to be volatile, rising during June, from $4.27/MMBtu (July delivery) on 3 June to $4.73/MMBtu (August delivery) on June 28 but then falling back to $4.30/MMBtu (August delivery) on July 8, EnergyQuest said.

There were some spot cargoes from Wheatstone, Ichthys and Gorgon in June, but none reported from east coast projects.

West Coast shipments decreased to 4.3 Mt in June from 4.6 Mt in May, with 63 cargoes in June compared to 68 in May.

East coast LNG shipments increased to 1,856 kt in June from 1,765 kt in May, with 27 cargoes in June compared to 26 in May.