The Hague-based LNG giant Shell on Monday launched its first” LNG Outlook”, an assessment of the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market.
According to the outlook, global demand for gas is expected to increase by 2% a year between 2015 and 2030 while LNG demand is set to rise at twice that rate at 4 to 5%.
The oulook says that many expected a strong increase in new LNG supplies would outpace demand growth during 2016. Instead, demand growth kept pace with supply as greater than expected demand in Asia and the Middle East absorbed the increase in supply from Australia, according to the outlook.
“Global LNG trade demonstrated its flexibility time and again in 2016, responding to shortfalls in national and regional gas supply and to new emerging demand,” said Maarten Wetselaar, Integrated Gas and New Energies Director at Shell.
China and India driving growth
China and India – which are according to the report set to continue driving a rise in demand – were two of the fastest growing buyers, increasing their imports by a combined 11.9 million tones of LNG in 2016. This boosted China’s LNG imports in 2016 to 27 MT and India’s to 20 MT.
Total global LNG demand increased following the addition of six new importing countries since 2015: Colombia, Egypt, Jamaica, Jordan, Pakistan and Poland. They brought the number of LNG importers to 35, up from around 10 at the start of this century.
Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan were among the fastest growing LNG importers in the world in 2016. Due to local shortages in gas supplies, they imported 13.9 MT of LNG in total.
The bulk of growth in LNG exports in 2016 came from Australia, where exports increased by 15 MT to a total of 44.3 MT. It was also a significant year for the USA, after 2.9 MT of LNG was delivered from the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, the report said.
LNG prices and trade changes
Global LNG prices fell dramatically in the last two years following to the slump in oil prices.
According to the report, global LNG prices are expected to continue to be determined by multiple factors, including oil prices, global LNG supply and demand dynamics and the costs of new LNG facilities. In addition, the growth of LNG trade has evolved into helping meet demand when domestic gas markets face supply shortages.
In addition, the growth of LNG trade has evolved into helping meet demand when domestic gas markets face supply shortages.
LNG trade also is changing to meet the needs of buyers, including shorter-term and lower-volume contracts with greater degrees of flexibility. Some emerging LNG buyers have more challenging credit ratings than traditional buyers, the report noted.
New investments needed
While the industry has been flexible in developing new demand, there has been a decrease in final investment decisions for new supply.
Shell said it believes further investments would need to be made by the industry to meet growing demand, most of which was set to come from Asia, after 2020.
The report noted that in China, a government target has been set for gas to make up 15% of the country’s energy mix by 2030, up from 5% in 2015. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia is projected to become a net importer of LNG by 2035, a significant transformation for a region which includes Malaysia and Indonesia – currently among the major LNG exporters in the world, the report said.
Looking forward, the outlook says that from 2020 to 2030 most new LNG demand growth will be driven by: policy, floating storage regasification units (FSRUs), replacing declining domestic gas production, small scale LNG and transport.