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Australia's North West Shelf asks Japanese utilities to defer some LNG cargoes

Highlights

Around one LNG cargo per month to be impacted until April 2022

Woodside's production guidance for 2021 is already 5%-10% lower on year

Singapore — Australia's North West Shelf LNG has asked some of its Japanese customers to defer deliveries of a small volume of the LNG cargoes under their contracts, due to upstream issues that could constrain production in the coming months, according to at least five market participants who were affected.

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The exact delays have not been finalized and only about one LNG cargo per month would be impacted until April 2022, the market participants, which included power utilities and LNG traders, said.

This amounts to fewer than eight LNG cargoes in total, assuming that only deliveries from July onwards are affected, which is a relatively small volume for North West Shelf LNG that exports roughly five regular-sized LNG cargoes every week.

Woodside Energy, which operates the North West Shelf Project, did not confirm the cargo deferrals and said it was maintaining its 2021 production outlook.

"We do not comment on confidential operational matters, including cargo scheduling. There is no change to Woodside's previously disclosed production guidance range of 90 million-95 million barrels of oil equivalent for 2021," a spokeswoman said.

This is a 5%-10% decline from the 100.3 million boe it produced in 2020, according to its annual report for the year.

​"It's upstream, not something you can repair. I don't think the situation will change. You can't do much because the well already has water," a source with direct knowledge of the matter said, adding that NWS had no choice but to either delay or cancel cargoes, as not everything they have planned can be produced.

Another Japanese utility said they were initially approached for a reduction in offtake volume for May-June, but this could be pushed further out.

Other utilities said they expect almost no impact as the market is balanced or oversupplied, and if summer LNG demand increases, Asian prices will have to rise anyway to pull in cargoes from Europe.

Woodside, along with BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, Japan Australia LNG (MIMI) and Shell, all have a 16.67% stake in NWS.