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Queensland LNG exports hit 7-month high in August at 1.76 mil mt

LNG exports from Gladstone port in the eastern Australian state of Queensland hit a seven-month high in August, with strong volumes recorded to the key destinations of China and South Korea, data from Gladstone Ports Corporation showed.

A total 1.76 million mt of LNG was shipped in August from the port – where all three of Australia’s eastern seaboard LNG terminals are based – up 8% year on year and up 7% from July. It was the highest monthly volume since January, when 1.77 million mt was exported, and the third-highest on record, the GPC data showed.

The terminals at the port are the Origin-ConocoPhillips Australia Pacific LNG, Santos-led Gladstone LNG and Shell’s Queensland Curtis LNG. Each facility has two trains, with the first of the lot having come online in January 2015 and the last in October 2016. They have a combined nameplate capacity of 25.3 million mt/year.

The 9 million mt/year APLNG terminal had a half train outage for maintenance over August 21-August 26 and is scheduled for further maintenance over September 11-17, according to a notice given to the Australian Energy Market Operator earlier in the year.

As with total LNG exports from the port, volumes bound for China were also at a seven-month high in August, at 1.26 million mt, up 13% on year and up 3% from July. It was also the third strongest month on record for Gladstone-China volumes, the GPC data showed.

Australia’s LNG imports to China could benefit from the trade dispute between the US and China, in which China has threatened to impose a 25% tariff on US LNG.

“Chinese buyers with agreements in place to purchase US LNG may swap their contracts with other counterparties to avoid paying additional fees, or outright cancel them,” the director of power and gas research at Morningstar Matthew Hong said last month.

However, due to the small volume that China currently imports from the US, the benefit to Australian producers was unlikely to be signficant, Capital Economics said in a report last month. “But, if implemented and maintained, the tariffs may mean that in the medium-term, Australia is able to grab a bigger slice of China’s growing demand for LNG,” it added.

Volumes to China accounted for 29% of all Australian LNG exports of 52.1 million mt in fiscal 2016-17 (July-June), according to Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. In fiscal 2017-18, Australia’s LNG export volumes surged to 61.7 million mt, and are expected to total 73.3 million mt in the current fiscal year. The country is tipped to become the world’s largest exporter of the fuel in 2019.

In contrast, China had imported around 1.25 million mt of LNG from the US in 2018 to early August, compared with 1.61 million mt in the whole of 2017, S&P Global Platts data showed.

“Even if all that demand was diverted to Australia, it would boost Australia’s total LNG exports by just 2% and add less than 0.1% to GDP,” Capital Economics noted.

LNG volumes bound for South Korea from Gladstone in August were at a five-month high of 369,947 mt, surging 219% on year and up 107% on month, the data showed.

The only other two countries to have been sent LNG from Gladstone in August were Japan and Malaysia, with Japan seeing a slide while Malaysia’s volumes were steady.

Japan was sent 66,518 mt in the month, down 80% on year and down 45% from July, while Malaysia was sent 62,466 mt, down 1% on year and down 1% from July.
Source: Platts

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