Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2012

Tankers on the horizon: Australia's coming LNG boom

August 2012

Economist Intelligence Unit


The International Energy Agency speculates that we could be entering a “golden age of gas.” If that is the case Australia is set to be a key contributor to it. While much attention has been paid to the shale gas boom in North America and prospects for the spread of the “shale gas revolution” elsewhere, Australia has been positioning itself to emerge as a leading player in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market by the end of this decade. Australia could even displace Qatar as the number one LNG exporter in the world by 2020. At the very least Australia will surpass major LNG exporters Indonesia and Malaysia in terms of total liquefaction capacity. This will enable Australia, an already well-established Asia-Pacific LNG supplier to carve out a greater role in the global LNG trade. Gas production and LNG operations are not new to Australia. But a gas-for-export sector, in the form of LNG, in the country is set to grow substantially. Australia’s growing role as an LNG exporter will be made possible by the further development of offshore conventional gas resources, and of coal seam gas (CSG). This new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) analyses the dominant trends in the development of Australia’s gas resources and details the LNG projects that will unlock these resources for export to markets in Asia. The report will also assess the domestic and international drivers and constraints that will impact Australia’s ability to increase its LNG export capacity. Despite Australia’s great LNG potential, several factors are likely to slow the pace of progress and determine how far the country’s LNG sector will expand after 2020. This much is clear, however: Australia is on the cusp of dramatically expanding its role as an LNG supplier to Asian markets this decade.