Analysts predict LNG drop
Deloitte analysts say Australia’s LNG construction boom is all but over.
With two major projects - Inpex’s Ichthys project in the Northern Territory and Chevron’s Wheatstone project in WA - reaching completion, the experts say investment in the oil and gas industry is dwindling.
“Looking ahead, the prospects for investment in new Australian LNG capacity remain limited,” the report said.
It said local work will be slowed by a rapid expansion of LNG capacity internationally, with five major projects under construction in the US and Qatar.
“Global LNG import demand remains high enough to absorb the additional supply over 2018, but a period of excess global supply is forecast in coming years. This is set to dampen incentives for additional developments in Australia,” the Deloitte report says.
“Despite the fact that a number of LNG projects remain in the planning stages, prospects will largely depend on the outlook for global demand and the cost competitiveness of Australian LNG facilities.”
But oil and gas analyst Saul Kavonic says Chinese demand will grow too. The prediction is backed by data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which has forecast a 7.2 per cent growth in LNG demand this year alone.
Still, several development projects are trapped in the approvals process.
“We really do need to see new LNG projects sanctioned today to avoid this shortage,” Mr Kavonic said.
Deloitte says areas outside of LNG look slightly more optimistic.
“Robust growth in the global and domestic economy is supporting demand for the goods and services that businesses sell, leading to higher profits, improved business confidence and tightening capacity utilisation,” Deloitte Access Economics partner Stephen Smith said.
“And given that interest rates remain low and investment has been weak for a number of years, the case for businesses to invest in new capacity is increasingly compelling.
“Yet a degree of caution is still required. Firstly, while Australia’s outlook is solid, it isn’t great. As China’s economy slowed, cuts to interest rates pushed house prices and retail sales above where they would otherwise have gone. That reduced the severity of the downturn, but will also reduce the size of the present upswing.”