Australia overtakes Qatar as the largest LNG exporter in the world

Australia overtakes Qatar as the largest LNG exporter in the world
A Woodside Energy tanker at the Karratha loading terminal in Western Australia. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2021

Australia overtakes Qatar as the largest LNG exporter in the world

Australia overtakes Qatar as the largest LNG exporter in the world
  • LNG trade rises to record in 2020 but growth slowed by COVID-19

SINGAPORE: Global liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade volumes rose to a record last year led by Asia, though growth was marginal as demand was slammed by coronavirus-induced restrictions, according to a report by the International Gas Union (IGU).
Overall LNG trade increased to 356.1 million tons last year, up by 1.4 million tons or about 0.4 percent from 2019, mostly driven by increased exports from the United States and Australia, the group said in its annual report released on Thursday.
This was smaller than the growth of 40.9 million tons, or 11.5 percent, in 2019, the IGU said. But, LNG was one of the few commodities that had an increase in trade in 2020, it said.
“LNG trade in 2020 was heavily impacted by COVID-19, as markets, cities and producers across the globe wrestled with lockdowns and a multitude of other disruptions,” said the IGU, which comprises more than 160 members and advocates the use of gas.
Australia overtook Qatar as the largest LNG exporter in the world, while the US and Russia remained as the third- and fourth-largest exporters respectively, it added.
In 2020, the US exported 11 million tons, or about 33 percent, more than in 2019 due to new production from Freeport LNG, Cameron LNG and Elba Island. Exports, however, declined from Trinidad and Tobago, Malaysia, Egypt, Algeria and Norway, the IGU said.
For imports, Asia made up 70 percent of overall volumes with growth mainly driven by China, India, Taiwan and South Korea, with Myanmar being a new importer.
“While COVID-19 meant significant restrictions for some of these markets, they likely also benefited from the lower price period in 2020 and purchased additional short-term volumes, and expansion of regasification capacity in some cases,” IGU said.
Extended lockdowns and the increased share of renewables in the energy mix reduced net imports into Europe by 4.3 million tons.
COVID-19 also severely impacted liquefaction development with companies delaying final investment decisions on projects up to 2021 and later because of the uncertain economic climate with developers prioritising deferment of capital expenditure, IGU said.
For instance, a total of 87.3 million tons per annum (mtpa) of capacity were expected to be sanctioned in 2020, but only one project of 3.25 mtpa in Mexico was approved.
New regasification projects in China and India will continue to support gas demand while projects under construction in Ghana, El Salvador, Cyprus and Nicaragua and expected online over the next two years could see these countries make their debut LNG purchases, IGU said.


Saudi Arabia aims to be Egypt’s top trading partner

Saudi Arabia aims to be Egypt’s top trading partner
Updated 3 min 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia aims to be Egypt’s top trading partner

Saudi Arabia aims to be Egypt’s top trading partner
  • Saudi investors are especially interested in the water desalination and water treatment sector, says Egyptian Trade Minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia plans to be Egypt’s top trading partner within five years, said Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al-Qasabi.

He made the pledge at the Egyptian-Saudi Joint Trade Committee on Monday.

The minister highlighted the presence of 6,225 Saudi companies operating in Egypt with investments amounting to some $30 billion.

At the same time, 518 Egyptian are estimated to operate in the Saudi market, with 285 Egyptian brands in the Kingdom.

Saudi investors are especially interested in the water desalination and water treatment sector, Egyptian Trade Minister Nevine Gamea told Asharq Business.

She added that the cooperation between the two countries was reflected in the trade volume, which exceeded $5.5 billion in 2020.

The volume of Egyptian investments in the Kingdom reached $1.4 billion at the end of last year, she added.


Saudi Arabia’s FlyNAS to start direct flights to Seychelles

Saudi Arabia’s FlyNAS to start direct flights to Seychelles
Updated 44 min 27 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s FlyNAS to start direct flights to Seychelles

Saudi Arabia’s FlyNAS to start direct flights to Seychelles
  • With the arrival of FlyNAS to our shores, the Ministry of Tourism is looking forward to (seeing) an increase in the number of visitors from the Saudi Arabian region

RIYADH: Saudi airline FlyNAS is starting direct flights to the Seychelles from July 1.

It will operate three times a week from Jeddah to Mahé, using an A320 Neo aircraft, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with up to 174 passengers. The flight time is five hours and 40 minutes.

Seychelles foreign affairs and tourism minister, Sylvestre Radegonde, said: “The destination has recorded approximately some 300 Saudi Arabians since January 2021. With the arrival of FlyNAS to our shores, the Ministry of Tourism is looking forward to (seeing) an increase in the number of visitors from the Saudi Arabian region. The three weekly flights to Seychelles from Jeddah represent another great opportunity for our destination, as not only will the Seychelles be accessible directly to Saudi Arabian nationals but also the expatriates living in the Kingdom.”

All passengers must present a negative PCR test and proof of valid travel health insurance covering any potential coronavirus-related costs as part of the Seychelles COVID-19 measures.


Suez Canal posts second-highest monthly revenue

Suez Canal posts second-highest monthly revenue
Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, is seen in Egypt's Great Bitter Lake Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (AP)
Updated 14 June 2021

Suez Canal posts second-highest monthly revenue

Suez Canal posts second-highest monthly revenue
  • Tonnages amounted to 10.6 million in May, compared to 9.94 million tons during the same period last year, an increase of 11.8 percent

CAIRO: The Suez Canal Authority has posted May revenues of $530 million, the second-highest monthly revenue in the authority’s history.

Osama Rabie, head of the authority, said that it is prepared to confront any crises, and that a strategy has been prepared to handle repercussions of the pandemic.

He added that 1,712 ships transmitted through the canal during May, compared to 1,602 during the same month last year, an increase of 9.6 percent.

Tonnages amounted to 10.6 million in May, compared to 9.94 million tons during the same period last year, an increase of 11.8 percent.

Rabie stressed that these improvements attracted praise from trade bodies such as the Baltic and International Maritime Council, Sea Trade, Forbes, and Argos. The groups have lauded the authority for attracting container ships and gas and oil tankers coming from the East American coast in the direction of Asia.

He pointed out that the authority will always be a pioneer in adopting the latest methods and techniques of management and operation, as well as applying the mechanisms of integration between all elements of maritime transport.

Rabie said: “The Suez Canal Authority has prepared all scenarios to confront any emergency crises, which was clearly demonstrated when facing the coronavirus pandemic, which hit global trade and economic movement at the beginning of 2020, and negatively affected all areas related to international navigation and maritime transport in general, but this negative impact has been kept to a minimum thanks to an integrated proactive strategy prepared by the canal.”

 


Egypt, France sign transport, housing, energy agreements

Egypt, France sign transport, housing, energy agreements
Egypt's PM Mostafa Madbouli (C) looks on as France's Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire (L) signs agreement with Egyptian Minister of Transportation Kamel el-Wazir (R) in Cairo on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2021

Egypt, France sign transport, housing, energy agreements

Egypt, France sign transport, housing, energy agreements
  • Projects offering development financing of around 1.7 billion euros ($2.06 billion) were agreed with 776 million euros coming from the French government and 990 million euros from the French Development Agency

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has highlighted the importance of his country’s strong relationship with France after the two nations signed a raft of cooperation agreements.

His comments came during a meeting with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire who also praised Egyptian-French economic and commercial links while passing on President Emmanuel Macron’s congratulations to Egypt for its efforts in helping negotiate a ceasefire in the recent Israel and Gaza conflict.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Le Maire witnessed the inking of a number of agreements between their two countries relating to the transport, housing, and energy sectors.

Projects offering development financing of around 1.7 billion euros ($2.06 billion) were agreed with 776 million euros coming from the French government and 990 million euros from the French Development Agency.

Two agreements worth 150 million euros were penned to support Egypt’s social protection sector and implement a universal health insurance system.

A deal to re-establish the French University in Egypt by constructing a fully equipped new campus was also signed with funding of 12 million euros and a grant of 2 million euros.

 


Energy majors bid for Qatar LNG project despite lower returns

Energy majors bid for Qatar LNG project despite lower returns
Updated 14 June 2021

Energy majors bid for Qatar LNG project despite lower returns

Energy majors bid for Qatar LNG project despite lower returns
  • Qatar plans to grow its LNG output by 40 percent to 110 million tons per annum (mtpa) by 2026

LONDON: Six top western energy firms are vying to partner in the vast expansion of Qatar’s liquefied natural gas output, industry sources said, helping the Gulf state cement its position as the leading LNG producer while several large projects around the world recently stalled.
Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, TotalEnergies and ConocoPhillips, which are part of Qatar’s existing LNG production were joined by new entrants Chevron and Italy’s Eni in submitting bids on May 24 for the expansion project, industry sources told Reuters.
The bids show energy giants continue to have appetite for investing in competitive oil and gas projects despite growing government, investor and activist pressure on the sector to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
Unlike Qatar’s early LNG projects in the 1990s and 2000s when the country relied heavily on international oil companies’ technical expertise and deep pockets, the country’s national oil company Qatar Petroleum (QP) has gone ahead alone with the development of the nearly $30 billion North Field expansion project.
It is, however, seeking to partner with the oil majors in order to share the financial risk of the development and help sell the additional volumes of LNG it will produce.
“I don’t think QP need the IOCs expertise in the upstream or midstream construction of the project but they will be glad to see someone take some LNG volumes off their hands,” a senior source in one of the bidding companies said.
Qatar plans to grow its LNG output by 40 percent to 110 million tons per annum (mtpa) by 2026, strengthening its position as the world leading exporter of the super-chilled fuel.
An Eni spokesperson confirmed the company is participating in the bidding process. QP, Shell, Chevron, TotalEnergies, Conoco declined to comment.
Exxon said it did not comment on market rumors, but added: “We look forward to continuing success in future projects with our partners Qatar Petroleum and the State of Qatar. ExxonMobil affiliates are working with Qatar Petroleum to identify international joint venture opportunities that further enhance the portfolio of both.”
Leading energy companies see natural gas as a key fuel in the world’s efforts to cut carbon emissions and replace the more polluting coal, although the International Energy Agency said in a report last month that investments in new fossil fuel projects should stop immediately in order to meet UN-backed targets aimed at limiting global warming.
Activists say that expansion in natural gas delays a transition to renewable energy that is needed to meet UN-backed targets to battle climate change. The European Union is in the midst of a debate about what role gas should take in the energy transition.
The outlook for global LNG supplies tightened sharply in recent months after Total suspended its $20 billion LNG project in Mozambique due to a surge in violence.
It followed a string of delays of LNG projects in North America as COVID-19 hobbled demand last year.
Global LNG demand has increased every year since 2012 and hit record highs every year since 2015 mostly due to fast-rising demand in Asia. Analysts have said they expect global LNG demand will grow about 3-5 percent each year between 2021 and 2025.
Lower returns
The interest from companies in the Qatari expansion comes despite relatively low returns.
QP offered international bidders returns of around 8 percent to 10 percent on their investment, down from around 15 percent to 20 percent returns Exxon, Total, Shell and Conoco have seen from the early LNG facilities, according to sources in three companies involved.
Qatar project returns have never previously been disclosed.
The six companies and QP declined to comment on the terms of the bids.
“Clearly Qatar has become more competitive,” a source said. “But it remains very low risk from the resource perspective.”
The results of the tender process are not expected to be announced before September, two of the sources said.
In March, QP said it will take full ownership of Qatargas 1 LNG plant when its 25-year contract with international investors including Exxon and TotalEnergies expires next year, in a sign of its growing confidence.
Qatar is also in talks to make Chinese firms partners in the project, sources told Reuters last month.
QP last month hired international banks for a multi-billion dollar debut public bond sale by the end of June, two sources said, to help in part development the Northern Field project.