Construction is underway on seven projects that would expand Australia's liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity by a combined 8.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) by the end of this decade. This would raise Australia's total LNG export capacity to 11.2 Bcf/d, which is more than one-third of the 2012 world LNG trade and more than 200% above Australia's current 3.2 Bcf/d of capacity.
The largest of the seven projects currently underway is the Gorgon LNG terminal, which is scheduled to begin operations by March 2015, and would ultimately have the capacity to liquefy and ship 2.0 Bcf/d of natural gas. Gorgon LNG is on the northwest coast of Australia and will sell to contracted customers in Japan, China, India, Korea, and Mexico, as well as to spot market customers. Three other LNG export projects (Ichthys, Wheatstone, and Prelude), providing 2.8 Bcf/d of additional capacity, are underway in the basins off Australia's northwest coast. The remaining three projects (Queensland Curtis, Australia Pacific, and Gladstone) are under construction in the northeastern Queensland region; they are slated to provide the capacity to ship 3.3 Bcf/d of natural gas extracted from coalbed methane.
There are an additional seven planned projects that would add a combined 4.4 Bcf/d to Australia's LNG export capacity. All of these projects have announced in-service dates between 2016 and 2020, but some will likely come on line after their announced dates since construction has not started.
Australia exported 2.7 Bcf/d of LNG last year, with more than three-quarters of its exports destined for Japan, making Australia the world's third-largest LNG exporter behind Qatar and Malaysia. Australia's largest existing terminal is North West Shelf LNG, which has capacity to ship 2.1 Bcf/d of natural gas, primarily to contract buyers in Japan. Australia became Japan's largest LNG supplier last year in the wake of the Fukushima power plant accident, and also has a number of long-term purchase agreements with all three Chinese national oil companies.