The gas market is being flipped upside down. Australia, soon to become the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is now turning to the largest buyer Japan as it seeks to import the fuel to ease a domestic supply crunch.
In a scenario played out previously by LNG shippers including Indonesia and Malaysia, Australia is seeking to import gas to help ease supply imbalances exacerbated by its growing export industry. Australian Industrial Energy, which plans to build an import terminal in New South Wales, has sought help from Japan’s Jera Co., a gas colossus that’s using a global oversupply of the fuel to transform the North Asian nation’s role from biggest buyer to a budding trader.
“We have the world’s largest buyer of LNG who is out on the market on our behalf and able to give us a very good line of sight as to where the opportunities are,” James Baulderstone, AIE’s project leader, said in an interview last week. “We have attractive offers on the table.”
Jera’s role in the project hasn’t been decided and a feasibility study is underway, according to a spokesman. It hasn’t been determined from where potential LNG would be sourced, he said. Rival import plants are also planned for other states on Australia’s eastern seaboard, where gas shortages are forecast as production declines from aging fields including Victoria’s Bass Strait.