Australia overtook Qatar to become’s the world’s leading liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter for the first time in November, as per data from Refinitiv Eikon.
Australia witnessed a surge in LNG exports after a number of major projects came online in the last three years, including Chevron (CVX)’s Gorgon and Wheatstone projects. The Ichthys gas field project, which can produce 8.9 million metric tons of fuel per year and is located in Timor Sea off the northwestern coast of Australia, is the latest LNG project that started up recently. Following the start ups, Australia exported 6.5 million tonnes of LNG in November, surpassing Qatar which loaded more than 6.2 million tonnes of LNG for exports in the same period. Analysts at Wood Mackenzie have noted that Qatar’s volumes were hit by the maintenance work. Once that finishes, the country’s exports will likely climb back to 6.5 million tonnes in December.
Another major LNG project, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A)(RDS.B) will start up in 2019 which will further solidify Australia’s position as the top LNG exporter. However, analysts have pointed out that a number of new projects in Qatar will come online as the country considerably lifts its LNG capacity from 77 million tonnes a year currently to 110 million tonnes a year by early 2024. As a result, the country could reclaim its top spot in the global LNG space in the coming years.