PNG LNG industry will face rivals

PAPUA New Guinea's nascent LNG industry could face competition in the region by the development of unconventional gas around the world and the redirection of exports away from the US to Southeast Asia by Qatari producers.

The key to ensuring optimum supply and secured price levels is to establish reliability credentials and to ensure customers are locked in before any change in marketing strategy by Qatar, the world's biggest and most cost-efficient LNG producer, Facts Inc chairman Fereidun Fesharaki told the Papua New Guinea Mining and Investment Conference in Sydney.

"You have to be aware that the Qatari shadow is there," he said.

"You have to lock up your customers as soon as possible. It is not possible to compete with the Qataris on economics.

"You cannot remain comfortable."

There is also expected to be energy competition coming from Canada's shale gas industry, which is expected to produce approximately 20 million tonnes per annum of LNG within seven years, Fesharaki said.

Once a solid relationship with customers is established, he said it should be possible to enjoy good growth, as the use of gas for energy needs has been found to be "addictive".

"Oil is like dating and gas is like getting married," Fesharaki said.

Fesharaki said China and India were also developing their own shale gas industries which would create and meet supply in the interior of those nations.

Within the region Japan would remain the dominant buyer in the future decade, despite being eclipsed as the world's second-largest economy by China.

Prices for LNG are more likely to track the price of oil, which will almost certainly rise in the future because of shortages created by geotechnical and geopolitical reasons, he said.

Australia will emerge as a major supplier of LNG, but other regional suppliers such as Brunei will drop off their supply, making room for the PNG LNG industry to maintain its presence in the region, Fesharaki said.

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