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LNG Exporters Struggling to Find Customers

Competition between exporters of liquefied natural gas is heating up. In fact, the competition is getting so fierce, that suppliers are actually beginning to see their advantage erode – buyers are finding themselves increasingly comfortable turning to the spot market to meet their energy needs, eschewing long-term contracts so coveted by exporters.

The reason is that more LNG capacity is nearing completion, and that pace will accelerate over the next two to five years. And the shifting dynamics boil down to the developments in two countries – Australia and the United States.

Major gas suppliers invested top dollar in Australia in order to make it the LNG exporter of choice for the Asia-Pacific region. And Australia was well-positioned to do so – several of the world’s largest LNG consumers – Japan and South Korea – are nearby. To top it off, China, often ranked as the largest consumer of an array of other commodities, is finally kicking its imports of LNG into high gear. Australia scrambled to serve the hungry Asian market.

However, investors in Australian LNG did not anticipate one major development: the shale revolution in the United States, which brought a tidal wave of natural gas online and caused prices to plummet.

LNG export facilities are now in the permitting phase or under construction in the United States, with the first terminal expected to come online at the end of 2015. The inauguration of Cheniere…

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