PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Australia exported a record 78-million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2020, new data from EnergyQuest has revealed.
The exported tonnage for 2020 was up from the 77.5-million tonnes exported in 2019, and was a strong result given disruptions at the Gorgon LNG project, the fact that the Prelude project had not produced since early February, the issues reported at the Wheatsone project which saw production reduced, and the destruction of LNG demand driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, said EnergyQuest CEO Dr Graeme Bethune.
Despite the restrictions placed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Australian projects operated at 89% of operational nameplate capacity during the full year.
Production from Western Australia was up by 5% on 2019, to 43.7-million tonnes, with the region continuing to dominate the Australian LNG sector, and supply some 56% of national exports.
Queensland produced 29% of total LNG exports, with the Northern Territory also contributing 15%. The Northern Territory production was up by 11% on the 2019 figures, reaching 11.7-million tonnes.
Japan has remained the top export destination for Australian LNG during 2020, with 30.3-million tonnes, or 38% of export volumes, destined for the region. Despite political tensions, China also imported 29.6-million tonnes of LNG from Australia, Bethune said, up from the 28.8-million tonnes imported in 2019.
Korea also accounted for 8.1-million tonnes of export volumes in 2020, up from the 7.7-million tonnes reported in 2019.
EnergyQuest has estimated that LNG export revenues in Australia were worth some A$36.1-billion in 2020, down from the A$48.7-billion reported in 2019, with revenues severely impacted by lower oil prices and low spot prices.
Bethune said this week that there remained opportunity to further lift LNG production rates in 2021, with a further 3.6-million tonnes being added to the production portfolio once Prelude reached its full production capacity, with another five-million tonnes also forthcoming from Gorgon, once repairs have been made to the cooling kettles.
Export volumes for 2021 are predicted to be some 80-million tonnes, while higher oil and spot LNG prices are also expected to increase export revenues.