LNG glut may flip to deficit as Cheniere sees China growth

By Anna Shiryaevskaya and Naureen S. Malik on 9/8/2017

LONDON and NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- The global glut plaguing  liquefied natural gas markets may start to dwindle in five years, threatening to spur a deficit equivalent to twice the output of leading producer Qatar.

New projects are needed to fill the shortfall, with demand for the super-chilled fuel forecast to double in the 20 years to 2035, Cedigaz, a Paris-based industry research group, said in its LNG Outlook. Buyers in Asia are boosting use of the fuel at a “staggering” pace, Jack Fusco, CEO of U.S. exporter Cheniere Energy Inc., said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

While plants currently in operation or being built will add to global oversupply, aging facilities and shrinking resources in some areas mean capacity will start declining after 2021. That’s a boon for companies from Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Tellurian Inc. and Novatek PJSC looking to invest in new production in the next decade to meet demand.

“The continuous growth of the LNG market will leave a large margin for the implementation of new projects,” Cedigaz said in the report emailed Thursday.

The U.S. shale boom will make the country the biggest LNG producer by the end of the period, according to the Cedigaz report. Output will end in some nations such as Trinidad and Tobago.

“I foresee that the LNG market needs at least a hundred million tons of new liquefaction capacity above what’s under construction today in order to meet demand needs of the market by 2025,” Meg Gentle, CEO at Tellurian, said by phone Thursday. “Demand is growing more than people expected.”

Global LNG capacity is expected to peak at 387 million tons a year by 2021-2022 from 288 million tons this year at existing or under-construction plants, Cedigaz said. Trinidad and Tobago, the world’s ninth-biggest producer, will stop production in 2029. The Atlantic LNG venture in the Caribbean nation has already curbed output and cut its workforce due to feed-gas shortages.

Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia and even Australia, which next year will add more capacity than any other nation, will see declines in output by the end of the next decade. By 2035, new LNG projects will be required in all regions, with additional capacity needs estimated at 154 million tons, according to the report. Qatar produces 77 million tons a year.

While the oversupply lingers, increases in Australian and U.S. capacity will shake up the list of the biggest producers. The outlook is based on stable production at Qatar, though the nation’s decision to boost output by 30% to 2024 “could change the game,” Cedigaz said.

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