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Australia LNG Export Companies – Infrastructure, Trends, and Future Projects

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Explore Australia leading LNG export companies, including existing infrastructure, project structures, terminals, proposed plants, gas production trends, and current contracts.

On the back of a swathe of newly opened liquefaction terminals in 2016, Australian LNG exports surged by 46,0 % in 2016 to stand at 94,11 m m3, further cementing Australia’s place as the second largest LNG exporter globally, behind Qatar.

The growth in LNG exports was supported by a ramp-up in activity at the first 3,9 mtpa train of Gladstone LNG facility, which came online towards the end of 2015. Furthermore, a second 3,9 mtpa train at Gladstone LNG commenced operations in mid–2016. Also on the East coast, the Australia Pacific LNG facility, operated by ConocoPhillips, exported its first cargoes in 2016 as both trains started up. On the northwest coast of the country, the first two trains of Gorgon LNG were completed in 2016, adding a further 10,4 mtpa of nameplate liquefaction capacity.

However, shipments from Gorgon have been hampered by a number of unplanned outages, particularly at Train 1. Overall, 23,3 mtpa of nameplate Liquefied Natural Gas Reliquefaction Plantliquefaction capacity came onstream in Australia in 2016. The vast majority of Australian LNG exports in 2016 were destined for Asia, particularly Japan, China and South Korea. This partly reflects the fact that a number of Asian utility companies have long-term agreements to purchase LNG from Australia. Australian exports to China more than doubled y-o-y in 2016 to 27,38 m m3, whilst exports to Japan rose by 10,0 % to 45,71 m m3.

Existing Infrastructure
Map of AustraliaProject StructureTerminal
PlantOperatorStart UpTrainsStorageNameBerthsLOA, m.Draft, m.Vessel Max. m3
No.mt/yNo.Cap. m3
North West Shelf ProjectWoodside Petroleum198925,05325 000Withnell Bay136012,2145 000
199212,5
200514,6
200814,3
Total Withnell Bay516,45325 000
Darwin LNGCococoPhillips200613,41188 000Darwin129011,4147 000
Total Darwin LNG13,41188 000
Pluto LNGWoodside Petroleum201214,32240 000Dampier1155 000
Total Pluto LNG14,32240 000
Queensland Curtis LNGQueensland Gas201428,64560 000Gladstone175 000
Total Queensland Curtis LNG28,64560 000
Gladstone LNGSantos201513,91280 000Gladstone165 000
201613,91280 000
Total Gladstone LNG27,82560 000
Gorgon LNGChevron Australia2016210,42Barrow Island1165 000
201715,2
Total Gorgon LNG315,62
Australia Pacific LNGConocoPhillips201629,0Gladstone29011,5165 000
Total Australia Pacific LNG29,0
Australia Total1665,1161 873 000
Open table in new window

Into early 2017, further liquefaction capacity has opened in Australia, namely the third train at the Gorgon LNG facility. In addition to this, a further 17,4 mtpa of liquefaction capacity is scheduled to come online in Australia in 2017.

Australia - proposed plants
Future / Proposed Plants

This would take nameplate capacity to 82,5 mtpa by the end of 2017, which would be the largest of any nation. These projects include the Ichthys LNG project, which has been subject to worker disputes and two 4,5 mtpa capacity trains of the Wheatstone LNG project.

Australia - LNG production and export
Gas Production and LNG Export Trends (volume statistics in m3 of natural gas)

However, Chevron have noted that the start-up of exports from Wheatstone LNG may be delayed slightly, although the project is still reportedly on track to commence operations in 2017. In addition to these projects, the first FLNG to be deployed offshore Australia at the Prelude project is expected to start up in 2018, adding a further 3,6 mtpa of liquefaction capacity.

Chart - gas production and LNG exports
Gas Production and LNG Exports (volume statistics in m3 of natural gas)

Beyond these projects which are under construction, several other projects have been mooted. However, given the depressed gas price and the elevated cost of a number of recent liquefaction projects in Australia, FIDs on projects have been limited recently. Some operators are reportedly re-examining the nature of projects, with ExxonMobil rumoured to be considering changing the Scarborough project from a land-based liquefaction terminal to an FLNG solution.

Australia - LNG exports
LNG Exports: Australia

In addition to the challenging project sanctioning environment, there have been gas shortages in some parts of Australia in early 2017, which has placed LNG exporters under significant scrutiny.

Read also: Demand, Supply, and Market Outlook of Liquefied Gas Global Trade

The Australian government has introduced measures, which come into force in July 2017, which allow the state to restrict LNG exports if there is believed to be an insufficient gas supply domestically.

Australia - current LNG contracts
Current Contracts

Despite the challenging project environment and political climate, the outlook for Australian LNG is cautiously optimistic. A number of new export terminals are slated to come online which is likely to further drive export growth in the coming years, even with potential limits on exports. In the longer-term, many projects in the FEED and proposed stages seem likely to come online, albeit with some probable delays, as global natural gas demand growth continues driving further demand for LNG.

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