Australian LNG performed strongly in March, reaching a new record of 7.2 million tonnes (Mt) shipped (105 cargoes), up 20% compared with 6.0 Mt (88 cargoes) in February. The previous monthly record for shipments was 7.1 Mt in December 2019.
The March record was particularly due to a rebound in performance from two projects, Chevron’s Gorgon project and Inpex’s Ichthys project. Production from Gorgon, which was previously interrupted by repairs to Train 1, was back in full swing, reaching 16.3 Mt on an annualised basis, 104% of nameplate capacity (15.6 Mt). Ichthys produced 9.1 Mtpa on an annualised basis, 102% of nameplate capacity of 8.9 Mtpa.
Gorgon and Ichthys were not the only projects to lift their performance. Another four of Australia’s 10 projects also achieved higher production: Woodside’s North West Shelf project, Chevron’s Wheatstone project, Santos’s GLNG project and Shell’s Prelude project.
Average plant capacity utilisation for the Australian LNG projects was 95.7% in March up on 88.4% in February.
Higher export volumes and stronger oil prices increased export revenue. EnergyQuest estimates that Australian LNG export revenue increased in March to $3.40 billion, well up on $2.68 billion in February although still down by 23% on March 2020.
Where did the extra LNG go? Deliveries to all major North Asian markets were significantly higher in March compared with February. Australian projects delivered a total of 96 cargoes to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in March, well up from 83 cargoes a month earlier.
There were eight more deliveries to China, three more to Taiwan and six more to Korea (achieving a monthly record of deliveries) but four less to Japan compared with February. There were also two more cargoes delivered to Malaysia and one more to India.