Investments in liquefied natural gas since the start of the year have hit an all-time high of $50 billion, the International Energy Agency’s head, Fatih Birol, told an industry conference.
“This year, 2019 already broke the highest amount of (final investment decisions) for the first time ever, $50 billion,” Birol told the LNG Producer-Consumer conference in Tokyo, as quoted by Reuters.
Unsurprisingly, the driver of this growth in investments is growing demand for the fuel in Asia, with China still expected to overtake Japan as the world’s top importer of LNG.
“The biggest growth is coming from China. In the next five years, about one-third of global LNG demand will come from China alone,” Birol said. He added that in five years, China will become the largest importer of the fuel.
As for the growth in investments, there are no surprises there, either. The bulk of these has been made in the United States and Canada.
In a December 2018 report the Energy Information Administration said it expected the United States’ LNG export capacity to double by the end of this year to 8.9 billion cu ft daily. This will make the U.S. the third-largest exporter of LNG in terms of capacity after Qatar and Australia. By 2030, U.S. LNG exports are estimated to reach 17 billion cu ft daily, from some 3 billion cu ft at the start of 2019.
In Canada, there is just one LNG project under development right now—LNG Canada—but it could have a final capacity of 28 million tons of the fuel annually. The US$31-billion project is led by Shell, with minority participants including Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi, and Kogas.
Meanwhile, Qatar is stepping up its efforts to keep its number-one spot in the global LNG export race. The country has lifted a moratorium on new drilling in its North Field—the world’s largest offshore gas field Qatar shares with Iran—aiming to boost export capacity by 43 percent to 11 million tons annually.
Global LNG demand is seen at 550 million tons by 2030, according to projections by IHS Markit.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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