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Australia's LNG sector is booming

Energy consultant group finds liquefied natural gas sales and production at record levels.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Australian consultant group EnergyQuest finds regional LNG production and exports are breaking records. Photo courtesy of Woodside Petroleum
Australian consultant group EnergyQuest finds regional LNG production and exports are breaking records. Photo courtesy of Woodside Petroleum

ADELAIDE, Australia, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Higher export volumes and energy market recovery means the liquefied natural gas sector in Australia is booming, consultant group EnergyQuest said.

Australian energy company Woodside Petroleum last month said it expected production to increase once its flagship Wheatstone LNG development starts operations next year. The company is Australia's biggest independent oil and gas producer and its sales revenue of $988 million was up 19.8 percent from the previous quarter, but lower year-on-year by 9 percent.

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EnergyQuest CEO Graeme Bethun said that, even from September, the amount of LNG leaving parts of Australia was up almost 10 percent.

"There was a particularly strong performance by LNG projects on the west coast," he said in a statement.

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The higher market prices for energy this year, which for oil is up more than $15 per barrel from the 2016 bottom, pushed the value of LNG exports for Australia in October to almost $1.3 billion, a record. For exports, Bethun said many projects already in service are producing more than anticipated and export volumes are close to two-year highs.

From September to October, the LNG export volume increased by 6.6 percent.

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A vessel left its port at Sabine Pass, La., in February with the first cargo of LNG ever sourced from U.S. shale areas to the foreign market. Asian markets are taking on more LNG and U.S. allies in Europe could benefit from the shale production in the United States with the right infrastructure in place.

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A special permit is needed to send natural gas to countries without a U.S. free trade agreement, a scenario that could present roadblocks for LNG exports to the European market. EnergyQuest said that, from its perspective, Australian LNG was outcompeting U.S. LNG as some of the former's gas was going to Mexico, one of the latter's larger trading partners.

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