x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Qatar unfazed by shale gas growth

Qatar has refuted concerns that the North American shale gas revolution will flood the world markets with liquefied natural gas and bring down prices.

Qatar has refuted concerns that the North American shale gas revolution will flood the world markets with liquefied natural gas (LNG) and bring down prices.

"The US has need for energy themselves," said Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi, the managing director of RasGas, one of the state-controlled gas producers in Qatar, at a conference in Malaysia yesterday. "I don't see the US exporting large volumes of LNG"

New techniques to extract natural gas from shale rock formations have dramatically increased the supply in the US and Canada, and brought down prices to only US$1.90 per million British thermal units (mBtu) on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest in more than 10 years.

The oversupply in North America has opened up the arbitrage with other markets, where LNG sells for as much as $16 per mBtu. Last month, the US company Cheniere gained approval to build the country's first export terminal and a total of 15 proposals for such projects have been submitted in the US and Canada.

"The US appears to be moving toward exporting LNG," said George Kirkland, Chevron's vice chairman. "The big questions are if, when and, importantly for us, how much?"

The US government is moving cautiously on LNG exports, fearing that large outflows of gas would push prices back up, harming the competitiveness of its industry and increasing electricity costs.

With domestic demand limiting exports, current export leaders will retain their prominent position in the world market.

Its scepticism about the impact of exports from the United States in particular are mirrored by Australia, which is poised to overtake Qatar as the world's biggest exporter of LNG. "In the US, you are always going to have constraints with the need for gas in power generation and the chemicals industry. Australian LNG has its place," said Peter Coleman, the chief executive of Woodside, Australia's second-biggest producer of oil and gas.

Woodside is one of the companies investing a total of US$180 billion (Dh 661.15bn) into the Australian gas sector, and the country is set to overtake Qatar as the world's biggest exporter by the end of the decade.

The company projects the US will export 50 million tonnes of LNG by 2025, one tenth of world demand, but that world demand will outstrip supply by up to 80 million tonnes between 2018 and 2020.

Chinese demand for LNG is set to remain strong, further stabilising prices, as the country's own shale gas efforts are likely to be delayed until after 2020, according to the consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

China's natural-gas consumption will increase fourfold by 2030 to 600 billion cubic metres, accounting for 30 per cent of global growth in gas demand, estimates the consultancy.

"Significant remaining challenges in China's shale developments imply that substantial supply will likely materialise later than targeted," said Gavin Thompson of Wood Mackenzie.

fneuhof@thenational.ae

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