LNG market rebalancing to stall until 2020s, study says

LNG market rebalancing to stall until 2020s, study saysIllustration purposes only (Image courtesy of Santos)

The LNG market is expected to hit the bottom of a boom-bust cycle over the next five years, a report by Aurora Energy Research shows. 

This comes as a result of the depressed prices, a virtual halt in investment and the drop in contracts value.

Over the five-year period, a wave of new supply, predominantly in the US and Australia, will increase the total liquefaction capacity by up to a third, only accounting for committed projects, with any upward supply-side pressure only beginning to emerge beyond 2021.

The report further claims that even at that point weak demand is likely to impede a swift recovery. Although buyers are far more diverse than ever before, fundamental reasons will stall a full rebalancing until at least the mid-2020s.

Gas demand growth is currently squeezed out by renewables deployment, energy efficiency gains and depressed GDP growth expectations. New windows of opportunities in the transport sector and petrochemicals, while boosting the long-term prospects, are unlikely to bring a significant uplift in the short term, according to AER.

Largely in response to these conditions, and with growing numbers of increasingly sophisticated participants, the LNG business model is transitioning towards flexibility to unlock value. Buyers are increasingly trading to benefit from price volatility by redirecting cargoes, and shipping providers are also capturing a significant share of the value of flexibility through freight rates. Opportunities for structural changes in the market with shorter contracts, emerging supply hubs, and new pricing formulas are starting to shape new rules for the industry.

In Europe, these emerging market dynamics boost buyers’ negotiating position against historic suppliers, as LNG is increasingly eroding Russia’s market power.

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