Can Australia become the world's leading LNG exporter ?  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The ABC's "Fact Check" has a look at claims from the new energy minister that Australia could be the world's leading exporter of LNG from natural gas and coal seam gas - Can Australia become the world's leading LNG exporter ?.

The LNG industry claims to be Australia's fastest growing export sector.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane shares the rosy outlook. "Australia will shortly become the second largest - or optimistically, the largest - exporter of LNG and that is nothing short of amazing," Mr Macfarlane said during the Australian National Conference on Resource and Energy on October 3.

Is that a reasonable prediction?

Mr Macfarlane's office told ABC Fact Check he based his comments on advice from the Department of Industry and research by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, the national energy forecaster. The bureau says Australia will produce 83.0 million tonnes of LNG by 2017. How does this compare with the rest of the world?

According to statistics from the International Energy Agency, whose 28 member countries from the developed world are large users of energy, Australia is currently the third largest LNG producer in the world, behind Qatar and Malaysia.

The agency says Australia has the capacity to produce 33 billion cubic metres of LNG a year. In tonnes, the measurement used commonly in Australia, that converts to 24.4 million tonnes.

While Australia is in third place, the agency says Australia has more new LNG plants under construction than any other country.

On completion, the new projects will add a further 61.4 million tonnes of LNG capacity, bringing Australia's total to 85.8 million tonnes. These are due to be completed by June 2018.

Not many other LNG exporting countries have new projects underway, according to the agency. The closest is the United States, constructing plants capable of producing 17.8 million tonnes.

When plants under construction are added to current capacity, Australia will lead the way with 85.8 million tonnes. Qatar, the current leader in LNG exports, will be next at 77.7 million tonnes and Indonesia third at 36.3 million tonnes.

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