As liquefied natural gas (LNG) gains significant traction with big oil and gas companies—spurred most recently by events in Ukraine even if this isn’t a logical driver—export approvals are coming online at a seemingly faster pace, and deal-making is in full throttle. Big oil is latching on to LNG because as a liquid it’s easier to store and ship, and safer too, and demand is at an all-time high and fetching nice prices particularly on the Asian market.
This week alone has brought a number of significant developments, from Shell’s supply deal with Kuwait to another export license approval in Canada for a Canadian-Japanese joint venture.
Royal Dutch Shell and BP announced deals over the weekend to supply Kuwait with LNG for the next five to six years, during peak demand periods from April-October. The total volume for both companies will be around 2.5 million tons per year. And Kuwait is also rumored to be preparing to sign another LNG contract with a third party sometime this week.
Then we have the LNG-sector movement in Canada, where regulators on 16 April approved a 25-year LNG export license for Triton LNG, which is backed by Canadian AltaGas Ltd and Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan Co. The approval is for the shipment of 320 million cubic feet per day from a planned floating LNG facility.
However, keep in mind that while export license approvals are piling up in Canada by comparison to the slower pace of approval in the US, most of the facilities have begun construction, and many have not received the necessary permits or environmental permission yet. The same is true for the Triton facility, for which the location hasn’t even been chosen yet.
As we reported earlier this month, the Canadian government has approved four other long-term LNG export licenses on the Pacific Coast in British Columbia.
The proposed export terminals would potentially be sponsored by Exxon Mobil, British-based BG Group and Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas, and licenses have been approved for the export of up to 73.38 million metric tons of LNG per year, or around 3.43 trillion cubic feet/year.
The potential projects for which licenses have been approved in advance by Canada’s National Energy Board include the Pacific NorthWest LNG, Prince Rupert LNG, WCC LNG and Woodfibre LNG terminals.
Though the export licenses have been granted, the projects themselves have not been approved.
What are we waiting for next? Turkey to come around the idea of transporting LNG through the Bosphorus Strait and across the Black Sea to Ukraine. This will be the game-changer for the European side of the LNG equation, and indeed for Turkey’s ambitions to become THE European energy hub as well as Ukraine’s desperation to become more independent in terms of energy.