For the first time in November, Austraila overtook Qatar as the world’s largest exporter of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), data from Refinitiv Eikon showed on Monday.
According to data, Qatar only exported over 6.2 million tonnes and around 600,000 barrels per day of crude oil, while Austraila loaded 6.5 million tonnes of LNG.
“It may have come later and at a higher cost than originally envisaged, but Australia has taken the crown,” said Saul Kavonic, energy analyst at Credit Suisse in Sydney.
Qatar recently quit OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and wanted to focus on increasing its production capacity by 2024 to 110 million tonnes a year, hence Saul stated that Qatar will not stay idle as a part of the facility was under maintenance and will climb back to the number one spot very soon. Currently, Australia has cemented its top position as the final new project in the pipeline, Royal Dutch Shell’s Prelude, said Sanford Bernstein analyst Neil Beveridge.
“Qatar, of course, will respond and we expect a new wave of projects to be launched which will see Qatar regain its position as the leading exporter by the early 2020s,” he added.
Qatar plans to boost its LNG capacity from its current production of 77 million tonnes a year, by adding a fourth LNG production line.
Wood Mackenzie analyst Nicholas Browne said the drop in Qatari LNG exports in November was due to maintenance, making Australia’s time at the top limited.
“We are expecting this to be temporary and that Qatar will likely produce 6.5 million tonnes in December, meaning it will again be the largest exporter,” he said.
“We expect Australia will regain the role of largest exporter from summer 2019, when Ichthys and Prelude have fully ramped up.”
Australia’s hold on the top spot could be fairly short as LNG exports are being blamed for rising domestic gas prices, which has become a political issue in the country.
“The reality is Australia will only keep this title for a few years before Qatar retakes the crown, and in the longer term it will likely be a U.S. versus Qatar story for the top spot with Australia in third place,” said Credit Suisse’s Kavonic