Signs Indicate Growth But Risks in LNG Energy Sector
Growth in the liquefied natural gas construction market globally appears to be on track, according to sector participants at a recent industry investors conference and other observers. The catalysts include strengthening demand and positive government actions.
Jamie Cook, managing director and construction sector analyst at investment firm Credit Suisse, noted at its LNG-focused event last month that “the tone … was universally positive with the consensus view that the industry is required to add between 100 and 250 [metric tons per annum] of capacity by 2025 to meet the supply-demand imbalance.” She predicted final investment decisions will accelerate after recent actions by LNG Canada in British Columbia and Golden Pass in Texas. “There are numerous LNG projects expected to move ahead,” said Cook, predicting improved margins for the limited group of contractor contenders, “assuming [project] execution.”
In its annual LNG outlook, released Feb. 25, Royal Dutch Shell says global demand for LNG will rise 11% this year. Most of the product will go to Asia, led by Japan and China. Duration of contracts signed last year more than doubled to 13 years, on average. U.S. authorization in February of a $4.25-billion LNG export plant and pipeline in Louisiana, based on a new federal approval approach (ENR 3/4-11 p. 18), could signal improved possibilities for 12 pending projects.
Not everyone is positive about the prospect of increased LNG exports. “The question is how it will impact the price of natural gas in the U.S.,” says Paul Patterson, an analyst with Glenrock Associates, noting increased domestic prices in Australia as LNG exports rose—doubling in some areas, he says. “It was a shock.”