Once it gains the top spot as the world’s largest producer of LNG, Australia is expected to stay ahead of Qatar until 2024, according to Norwegian energy research firm Rystad Energy.
“Australia has no intention of relinquishing its hard-earned LNG crown without a fight,” said Rystad Energy’s upstream team research analyst Readul Islam. “Over the next two years, pending approvals on up to seven Australian integrated LNG projects could challenge Qatar as the country with the largest sanctioned LNG volumes from integrated projects during that period,” said Mr Islam.
These seven Australian LNG projects will collectively supply just over 30 mta at full capacity and will require expenditure of nearly US$31Bn from FID to first export of LNG.
“However, though sanctioned Australian LNG supply volumes could run neck and neck with Qatar over the next couple of years, Qatari LNG production should retake the top producer crown midway through the next decade,” Mr Islam added.
Qatar Petroleum is set to build four new 'mega-trains' that will generate an additional nameplate capacity of 33 mta of LNG. The four mega-trains will grow Qatar’s nameplate capacity from 77 mta to 110 mta of LNG. When these expansion trains reach plateau rates during the mid-2020s, Qatar will regain the top LNG producer crown.
With Australia recently rolling off a glut of LNG mega-project construction, much of the near-term capacity additions are backfill projects intended to maximise capacity utilisation at existing hubs. Indeed, most of the imminent LNG capacity additions expected in Australia will not require additional trains to be constructed – only the Scarborough development will require an expansion train at Woodside’s Pluto LNG project.
“The jostling for the top LNG producer crown probably is of cursory interest to oilfield service specialists. If we add proposed onshore LNG projects in Papua New Guinea to the tally from Australia, a US$40Bn wave of LNG projects will wash over the region over the next couple of years,” Mr Islam said.