Australian liquefied natural gas export plants in Western Australia and Queensland exported a total of 93 cargoes in May, with six of them spot cargoes, down from 101 shipments the previous month, while deliveries to China kept their momentum as Japan and South Korea imports were lower or flat.
In a report on the May market in the Asia-Pacific region, Australian consultants EnergyQuest said the nation shipped 6.4 million tonnes in May, the same volume as in May 2019, but lower than the 6.8MT in April 2020.
“In May there has been a marked increase in the number of cargoes that have had their delivery delayed,” said the report.
It estimated that 41 Australian cargoes have anchored offshore or are steaming slowly awaiting final destination orders during May and early June.
“A Wheatstone cargo which loaded in May has a destination of Manzanillo in Mexico after being delayed off the coast at Dampier for close to three weeks. This indicates the level of oversupply in the current market,” stated EnergyQuest.
The report noted that Australian deliveries to China were still holding up.
“Australian projects delivered 37 cargoes to China in May, after delivering 40 in April and 38 in May 2019,” added the report.
Total Chinese LNG imports were up by 12.2 percent in April, according to the latest data available, compared with a year earlier.
“Chinese imports from Australia were 2.8MT in April, the highest import levels from Australia on record, significantly higher than the 1.9MT imported in March and 12 percent higher than a year earlier,” said the report.
“However, total LNG imports by Japan and Korea were down by 7.7 percent and 7.2 percent respectively in April,” it stated.
Overall Japanese imports were the lowest since November 2009.
Twenty-nine Australian deliveries were made to Japan in May 2020, well down on the 36 delivered in April and lower that the 33 shipped in May 2019.
Australia delivered 10 cargoes to Korea in May, up slightly on the deliveries of last year when nine cargoes were received at Korean terminals.
West Coast shipments, from plants like the Northwest Shelf, Pluto, Wheatstone and Gorgon decreased to 4.6MT in May (4.9 MT in April), with 67 cargoes in May compared with 71 in April. A year ago, the West Coast shipped 68 cargoes of 4.6MT.
East Coast LNG shipments from Gladstone LNG, Australia-Pacific LNG and Queensland Curtis decreased in May to 26 cargoes compared with 30 in April, and 26 cargoes a year ago.
“There was one May spot cargo reported from the East Coast, from APLNG, and five spot cargoes from the West Coast,” said the report.
That’s as spot prices began to recover from historic lows. The Japan-Korea Marker price increased during May from an all-time low of US$1.83 per million British thermal units for June deliveries on 28 April to US$2.03 per MMBtu on 3 June for July deliveries.
Meanwhile, GLNG plant operator Santos welcomed the approval with conditions of a coal-seam gas project in northwest New South Wales and which the Adelaidebased company has said would be less expensive than LNG imports to meet domestic gas shortages.
Santos said the Narrabri Gas Project would now be considered by the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission (IPC) which has been asked by state Planning Minister Rob Stokes to conduct public hearings and make a final decision within 12 weeks.
While CSG has been extracted from wells in Queensland for more 20 years, the industry has stalled in New South Wales, whose state capital is Sydney.