Robust China, Japan demand boosts LNG exports from Australia’s east coast
LNG exports from Australia’s east coast rose 9% month on month to 1.93 million mt in January, buoyed by strong sales to China and Japan, data from the Gladstone Ports Corporation showed.
Exports from the three LNG plants at the Port of Gladstone was the second-highest monthly outflow since shipments of the fuel started in early 2015. January exports were lower than the record shipments of 1.99 million mt in November 2017.
The three projects exported 20.58 million mt in 2018.
The LNG plants at Gladstone include the Origin-ConocoPhillips Australia Pacific LNG, the Santos-led Gladstone LNG and Shell’s Queensland Curtis LNG.
Volumes destined for China – which is Gladstone’s largest recipient of LNG – were also the second highest on record for the port at 1.38 million mt, falling short of the all-time high of 1.49 million mt set in November. January exports to China were up 3% year on year and were 2% higher from December, GPC figures showed.
Exports from Gladstone to China grew strongly in 2018, showing a 23% year on year uptick, from 11.59 million mt to 14.25 million mt. S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasts growth to slow in 2019 to 14%.
The anticipated slowdown in China’s import growth rate is based on Beijing’s gas policies aimed at relieving domestic supply tightness and reducing import dependency.
Gladstone exports to Japan, meanwhile, hit 196,514 mt in January, up 53% year on year from 128,508 mt and up 183% month on month from 69,489 mt, GPC said.
The bounce-back in volumes to Japan follows the 2018 total exports of 1.64 million mt, which was 40% lower year on year from 2.73 million mt.
In late December, Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science forecast Japan’s LNG imports to fall from 85 million mt in 2017 to 81 million mt in 2020, as the restart of several nuclear reactors over the past year reduces gas demand.
Gladstone’s second largest export destination for LNG, South Korea, saw fairly steady volumes in January, with 226,395 mt, which was down 6% year on year from 241,879 mt, GPC said.
The only two other countries to receive LNG from Gladstone in January were Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysia received 62,058 mt, up from zero a year earlier and down marginally from 62,982 mt in December. Singapore was shipped 64,062 mt, down 1% year on year from 64,522 mt and up 3% from 62,019 mt in December, it said.