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Shell Says First LNG Cargo From Floating Project Prelude Imminent

The first shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Shell’s floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility Prelude offshore Western Australia is imminent, the oil and gas supermajor said on its Management Day 2019 presentation to analysts.

“With Prelude now producing LNG for more than a week and the first shipment of LNG being imminent, we are further de-risking the delivery of our $8-10 billion organic free cash flow target in 2020,” Shell’s Integrated Gas & New Energies Director, Maarten Wetselaar, told analysts, discussing the company’s LNG financial performance and targets.

“Over the past three years we have consistently been growing both our LNG liquefaction and LNG sales volumes,” Wetselaar said.

It was the LNG business that helped Shell post better-than-expected Q1 earnings, as the trading and natural gas businesses offset weak oil prices and depressed refining margins that plagued the other majors in the first quarter this year.

The Prelude FLNG project is the last of the wave of major projects offshore Australia to go online over the past decade, after Total began gas exports from the Ichthys LNG project offshore Western Australia in October last year. LNG projects that began operations in Australia in recent years include Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone.

Australia currently has the world’s largest LNG export capacity, according to the EIA. Over the next few years, Australia, Qatar, and the United States will be competing for supplying more LNG to export markets.

The U.S. Department of Energy has recently authorized additional exports of LNG from the Freeport LNG Terminal in Texas, describing the gas bound for exports as “freedom gas.”

According to new production forecasts by Rystad Energy, Australia will become the world’s largest LNG producer in 2020 and will keep that title until 2024, when Qatar will retake the top spot.

“Australia has no intention of relinquishing its hard-earned LNG crown without a fight. Over the next two years, pending approvals on up to seven Australian integrated LNG projects could challenge Qatar as the country with the largest sanctioned LNG volumes from integrated projects during that period,” Readul Islam, Research Analyst on Rystad Energy’s Upstream team, said earlier this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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