Australian LNG exports hit 56.8 million tons (Mt) in calendar 2017, jumping 26.3% from 44.9Mt in the year prior.

Combined with higher oil prices, the increase in volumes pushed up Australia’s 2017 LNG export revenue by 44.1% to A$25.8 billion, according to the December LNG report from respected energy consultancy, EnergyQuest.

EnergyQuest CEO, Dr Graeme Bethune, said today 2017 had been a watershed year for Australia’s LNG industry, with growth in demand from China the stand-out success story.

Total Australian LNG exports to China increased by 40.5% from 12.4Mt to 17.5Mt over the period.

“China is now Australia’s second-largest LNG market and Australia is China’s biggest LNG supplier,” Dr Bethune said.

“Increased Chinese demand is not only good for Australian LNG producers and our export revenue, but has an emerging positive impact for China’s environment. China is making a massive switch from coal to gas to reduce air pollution in major cities such as Beijing – and now Australian LNG is playing a significant role in achieving this goal,” Dr Bethune said.

“LNG jumped from Australia’s fifth largest export in 2016 to third largest export in 2017, overtaking Gold and Education.

“To put $25.8 billion of export revenue in perspective, this is more than the cost of Australia’s imports of passenger vehicles, which was $21.8 billion in 2016-17. Passenger vehicles are Australia’s second biggest import cost.”

Other highlights of the EnergyQuest December monthly report are:

  • Australia is the world’s second-biggest LNG exporter by a substantial margin and catching up with Qatar, the biggest exporter.
  • The increase in exports in 2017 was primarily due to higher shipments from the Gorgon and APLNG projects. The North-West Shelf (NWS) remains the largest producer but Gorgon has rapidly increased production to take second place.
  • Japan remains the largest importer of Australian LNG, importing 26.7Mt in 2017, up by 18.1% from 2016 and Australia is Japan’s largest LNG supplier.
  • Exports to Korea also increased significantly in 2017. Korea is Australia’s third-largest market and Australia is Korea’s second largest LNG supplier after Qatar.
  • Two-thirds of exports to China and nearly two-thirds of exports to Korea come from Gladstone in Queensland.
  • West coast LNG projects shipped 3.3Mt in December, down from 3.5Mt in November. Wheatstone did not ship any cargoes in December. It shipped one cargo in the first week of January 2018.
  • East coast LNG exports increased to a record 2.0Mt in December, up from the 1.7Mt seen over recent months. However, the increase in east coast exports does not appear to have had any significant negative impacts on the domestic gas market.