Data for the first 9 months of 2012, collected and published by Barclays Commodities Research, show the LNG market has grown very little year-on-year. Global LNG supply is less than 1% below last year’s levels at 243 billion cu m.
Barclay’s analysis attributes the slow growth to outages at several supply plants through the year and to delays in plants’ sending out product. Train 1 of Woodside’s Pluto, said Barclays, has largely performed to expectation, Angola has lagged expectations with first cargoes now expected in fourth quarter, and Algeria’s liquefaction additions have yet to materialize.
The outages at some Australian plants, said the report, have meant that volumes are flat year-over-year, while reductions are larger at such exporters as Yemen, Egypt, and Algeria—all down between 1.4-1.7 billion cu m.
Qatar has been one of the few exporters actually to achieve year-over-year growth: Over the first 9 months, it saw total exports up by 3.7 billion cu m, although almost all of this growth was in first-half 2012. Over third quarter, Qatari exports actually fell by 0.5 billion cu m year-over-year, “owing largely to a slightly expanded maintenance program.”
Nigeria also increased exports, by 1.5 billion cu m/year. Recent news about an explosion on the pipeline to the Bonny Nigeria LNG terminal has already led to force-majeure calls on cargoes. The likelihood, said Barclays, is that fourth-quarter LNG volumes will not record global growth at all in year-over-year terms over 2012.
While global LNG supply has not changed, said Barclays’ analysis, Asian demand for LNG has risen by 13% year-over-year, driven by strong growth in almost every major importer, including China (>21%), Thailand (>23%), Japan (>15%), and India (>13%).
The reorienting of the LNG market towards Asia has been much commented upon in the market, said Barclays, and how the market has balanced (Asian growth against stagnant supply) to move cargoes from Atlantic basin buyers and to Asia.
This is leading to a burgeoning market for gas not sold under long-term contract.