The global natural gas industry has continued its recovery from the difficulties created by Covid-19 last year. Vaccines are reaching an increasing number of vulnerable people and second-wave lockdowns are being eased, helping to restore economic performance.
A plunge in temperatures in Asia during December and January demonstrated the need for a stable and affordable energy supply. So too did winter storms that swept across the US in mid-February, wreaking havoc in areas like Texas, which suffered widespread power outages.
Australian gas exporters weathered a volatile 2020, but as we look at in this issue, they are now relishing stronger prices and buyers’ renewed appetite for term contracts. However, the industry will need to work with regulators to ensure the gap between domestic and export parity prices continues to narrow.
US developer Sempra Energy took the industry’s only final investment decision on new liquefaction capacity in 2020, at its Energia Costa Azul scheme in Mexico. We assess why this unique project has gone ahead while many others floundered. This issue also features an interview with Sempra LNG CEO Justin Bird, who offers some insight on the exporter’s broader strategy.
On the other side of the industry, there is Vietnam, which is developing a raft of LNG-to-power initiatives as it seeks to bolster the role of gas in its energy mix. As we investigate, gas is taking away ground from dirtier coal-fired capacity in the country.
Turning to the upstream sector, Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale basin contains huge reserves of unconventional hydrocarbons, but as we discuss in this issue, policy preferences and infrastructure constraints pose a challenge to development.
Egypt is meanwhile making significant progress in commercialising its offshore reserves. It is simultaneously looking to ramp up LNG exports, using domestic and potentially third-party gas, and wants to expand its gas share at home as well.
LNG is emerging as a truly global maritime fuel, providing shipowners with an affordable, convenient, and realistic means for addressing their emissions.
This is why we devote a section of this edition to the rise of LNG bunkering. We explore LNG’s environmental credentials, its advantages versus other shipping fuels, the recent expansion in LNG bunkering infrastructure, the evolution in LNG engine design and the key regulatory changes that shipowners face.
Another special focus in this edition is the Canadian natural gas industry. Canadian LNG is finally inching forward after nearly two decades of fits and starts amid regulatory uncertainties and changing markets. The first large-scale projects are now making ground, potentially ushering in a new era for the country’s beleaguered gas industry.
We also look at the various micro-LNG projects taking shape in Canada, and the prospects for LNG bunkering there. In addition, we investigate the natural edge Canada has in carbon capture and storage, which if exploited would help the country lock away emissions and produce clean hydrogen energy for industry.
Interim Public Affairs Director, IGU
Editor, Natural Gas World