Sydney — Australia's three east coast LNG export plants in Gladstone, Queensland, together shipped a record 20.58 million mt of the fuel in 2018, up 2% from 20.21 million mt in 2017, as falling export volumes to Japan and South Korea were more than offset by growing appetite from China.
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Exports to China surged 23% year on year from 11.59 million mt to 14.25 million mt, while year-on-year exports to South Korea and Japan were down 18% and 40%, respectively, according to data released by the Gladstone Ports Corporation Tuesday.
Looking forward, China's LNG demand growth is expected to slow down in 2019 following a series of gas policies in 2018 aimed at relieving supply tightness and import dependency. S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasts China's 2019 LNG imports at around 58 million mt, up 14% from 2018. The country sustained an average growth rate of 40% over 2017 and 2018.
"China's natural gas demand will continue to climb, but other sources of supply such as domestic production and pipeline imports from Russia will help shoulder the load. However, we still expect Chinese LNG imports to continue to represent a significant portion of the global demand growth in the next several years," said Jeff Moore, Manager, Asian LNG Analytics.
Among other countries, Malaysia imported 876,663 mt of LNG from Gladstone in 2018, up 26%, while Singapore bought 467,134 mt, down 20% from a year ago.
For the month of December, Gladstone shipped 1.77 million mt of LNG, down 11% year on year and 8% month on month.
There are three LNG export facilities in Gladstone: the Origin-ConocoPhillips Australia Pacific LNG, the Santos-led Gladstone LNG and Shell's Queensland Curtis LNG.
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