Australia World’s LNG Hub By 2020 – Wood Mackenzie

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With the reality that it hosts seven of the world's 10 major liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, it is no remote idea that Australia could very well become the world's LNG hub by 2020.

"The projects already under development will take us ahead of Qatar. It's just a case of when that happens," Chris Graham, a Wood Mackenzie analyst, told the AFP.

These existing projects cost AU$176 billion or US$183 billion of private Australian and foreign investment in gas projects since 2007. But these amounts as well as the number of LNG projects in Australia could further hike due mostly to the nation's very friendly business climate.

"Australia is a very popular source for East Asian buyers because of low political risk and they are comfortable dealing with operators in this country," Mr Graham said.

"Sure, it is a high cost environment but resources in Australia are huge and opportunity from a resource perspective is obviously there and it ultimately comes down to competing projects elsewhere in the world."

Ranked the fourth biggest source of LNG in the world, Australia, according to analysts, could outstrip Qatar as the world's current leader in the LNG supply eight years from now, as more LNG reserves could still be also potentially discovered from Down Under.

Australia's LNG exports, which hit $11.1 billion in 2011 and equivalent to 18.9 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), are forecast to reach 63 mtpa by 2016-17, based on projects that are already committed or under construction.

The completion of these projects, and Australia turning top LNG supplier, could very well get expedited since the Australian government wants to seize the LNG buying-spree of China and India. China's demand for LNG expanded one-third in 2011, while India's demand for the chilled gas has been projected to triple by 2015.

"By 2017, based on proposed and committed new projects, Australia's LNG production capacity is projected to quadruple," Martin Ferguson, resources minister, said.

Australia still has a lot of proposals under the way that if pursued and developed could hurtle Australia to become the world's largest LNG exporter at output above 100 mtpa.

Australia already has three working LNG projects, which include the North West Shelf and Pluto projects in Western Australia, and Darwin LNG in the Northern Territory.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the world's second and third largest LNG suppliers, respectively.

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