China closes on Japan as Australia’s major LNG customer

Japan was the largest consumer of Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the 2019 financial year, followed closely by China.

Japan bought 29.5 million tonnes of LNG, while China bought 27.2 million tonnes. This comprised 39 per cent and 36 per cent of all Australian LNG exports, according to an LNG report released by EnergyQuest.

The remaining 10 per cent of LNG exports to North Asia went to Korea, becoming an increasingly important LNG customer.

EnergyQuest chief executive Graeme Bethune said, “The concentration of Australian LNG trade in North Asia is both a strength and weakness. A strength as North Asia is the world’s largest and fastest-growing LNG market. A weakness from lack of diversification and the risks this involves.”

“Not only is Australia exposed to a few countries, China and Japan, in particular, are also heavily exposed to Australia and this may place a ceiling on future contracts.”

Around 95 per cent of exports to Japan and China come from Western Australia or the Northern Territory.

Australia is the largest supplier of LNG to China with 46 per cent of all LNG imports.

Queensland alone has supplied 27 per cent of all Chinese imports, after investments from the three major Chinese oil and gas companies, CNOOC, Sinopec, and PetroChina, in Queensland gas companies, QCLNG, APLNG, and Arrow Energy, respectively.

Other customers of LNG exports include India, Malaysia. Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and the UAE.

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