Tue, Feb 27, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Australia LNG import plant set for 2020 finish


Billionaire miner Andrew Forrest and two of Japan’s biggest power utilities plan to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Australia by 2020.

The terminal could process as many as 1.8 million tonnes of LNG a year in New South Wales, the nation’s most populous state, to help ease an energy crisis that has crimped supplies for industrial users, the Australian Industrial Energy consortium said yesterday in a statement.

The volume of gas, equivalent to 100 petajoules annually, represents about 75 percent of the state’s gas demand.

Forrest, the chairman of the world’s No. 4 iron ore exporter, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, is backing the initiative through his Squadron Energy unit along with Marubeni Corp and Jera Co, a venture between Tokyo Electric Power Co Holdings Inc and Chubu Electric Power Co.

The plan follows a proposal by AGL Energy Ltd to build an import terminal in Victoria.

Australia is poised to join other large LNG exporters such as Indonesia and Malaysia in building import facilities amid a domestic shortfall that has seen energy prices surge.

“This project could provide much-needed support to Australian manufacturers within two years that’s much sooner than other proposed solutions,” Squadron Energy chief executive Stuart Johnston said in the statement.

The facility “would be capable of bringing the world’s cheapest gas to the east coast market, whether that be from Australia’s existing Western Australian gas resources or other global markets,” he added.

The three locations in New South Wales being considered for the import plant are Port Botany, Port Kembla and Newcastle, with a final investment decision to be made by the end of this year, the consortium’s project leader James Baulderstone said in an interview yesterday.

The consortium could also supply gas to a large-scale gas-fired power station in the state. AGL’s proposal in the southern state of Victoria could start operations by 2020 to 2021.

Gas from the offshore terminal, known as a floating storage and regasification unit, could be supplied to industrial customers on Australia’s east coast for A$8 to A$12 (US$6.31 to US$9.46) a gigajoule, Baulderstone said.

Marubeni and Jera are to start marketing the gas in New South Wales and might source LNG for the plant from Jera’s global network, the two companies said in a separate statement yesterday.

Gas prices have fallen from a peak of A$16 per gigajoule early last year to between A$8 and A$12 per gigajoule, while a projected gas deficit this year for the nation’s eastern states would narrow to 33 petajoules from 108 petajoules if demand peaks, the nation’s competition regulator said in a report in December last year.

Even so, some buyers are still frustrated by the terms of gas supply offers in the market.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year proposed rules to restrict gas exports in the eastern state of Queensland amid concerns that LNG exports had contributed to crimped supplies and a tripling of Australia’s wholesale gas price over the past two years.

Australia’s LNG exports will rise to 63 million tons a year by the middle of the year, with the second train of Chevron Corp’s Wheatstone project and Inpex Corp’s Ichthys plants both due to start up within the next few months, consultancy EnergyQuest said.

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