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A month ago the Adelaide consultancy was predicting a A$20 billion hit to export revenue for the next financial year.
It estimated then Australia's earnings for 2019-20 would be around $50 billion,and said they were $38 billion for the nine months ending March 31, but after this the fall in oil prices could hit earnings properly and destroy value by up to $20 billion.
However for now things are looking sunnier with figures showing that on an annualised basis Australia's shipments were 84.2 million tonnes per annum, or higher than its record-breaking top spot exports of 77.MMtpa for 2019 that finally pushed it ahead of Qatar.
It finds that total April LNG shipments were 6.9 million tonnes or 101 cargoes, above March's 6.8MMt, also 101 cargoes.
Of that, 40 ships went to China, higher than the 29 of March or 36 of the previous year. However deliveries to Japan were down to 36 in April over 46 in March but above the 33 sent there in April 2019.
Australia sent 10 cargoes to South Korea, above the seven sent a year previously and since March has been the nation's largest supplier, edging above Qatar and Malaysia "with the US well behind".
Overall west coast shipments were down for April, reflected by the lower number of cargoes headed to Japan, where most of the west's exports go, while the three east coast facilities' shipments were marginally up for April over March, reflected in the stronger Chinese numbers.
"West coast shipments decreased slightly to 4.9MMt in April (5MMt in March), with 71 cargoes in April compared to 73 in March. A year ago the west coast shipped 70 cargoes of 4.8MMt."
East coast LNG shipments increased with 30 cargoes in April compared to 28 in March, and 28 cargoes of a year ago.
The east coast facilities traditionally supply more to China and each of the three expert concerns has a Chinese partner.
These exports have made a welcome contribution to Australia's balance of payments, with Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggesting LNG revenue was up by 8% in March over the same month last year and was worth $4.6 billion, thanks to production running at rates almost 10% higher and an Aussie worth 12.1% less against the greenback. Concurrently there was a steep 35% fall in oil imports.
"The net impact of higher LNG exports and lower oil imports was to improve the balance of payments by $1.3 billion. In April we estimate that LNG export revenue improved further to $4.8 billion," EQ said.
The Japan Korea Marker for price futures fell from US$2.26 per million British thermal units for May deliveries to "an all time low" of $1.83/MMBtu for June deliveries, with a "slight" improvement to $2.03 by early May.
"Unlike the situation in the US, it seems unlikely that there will be trains shut-in or major output cuts from Australian projects due to lower oil and LNG prices," EQ said, noting the long term oil-linked contract price suggests oil prices would need to remain very low, for much longer, before trains were shut down.
Rather indications are that projects are cashflow positive even with US$15 per barrel oil, at least on Australia's west coast while the east coast, which sources its gas from Queensland's CSG fields and not large offshore reservoirs, can survive a $25/bbl price.
EQ noted Woodside Petroleum CEO Peter Coleman's recent comments that, given its 12-month contract schedule, the company had no plans to cease production, even of LNG destined for the low-priced spot market, though EQ notes there were no spot cargoes from the Woodside-run North West Shelf facility or Chevron Corporation's Gorgon LNG in April.
Australia Pacific LNG may "trim" spot volumes which would entail cutting output from CSG wells rather than shutting in one of its two trains.
Average LNG plant capacity utilisation was up in April despite the continued shutdown of Prelude, EQ says.
"Spot deals from other projects were at very low prices: for one cargo from Wheatstone at US$1.80-1.90/MMBtu and two cargoes from Ichthys and one cargo from Darwin, all believed to be at around US$1.70-1.75/MMBtu," it said.
In Queensland APLNG sent one spot cargo as did Gladstone LNG, while it says there is also evidence buyers may be pushing to take fewer cargoes "potentially reducing cargoes by 5-15%" which could see more gas go into the domestic market, which as yet the consultancy believes is unaffected by the pandemic."
"Overall COVID-19 restrictions do not appear to have affected domestic gas demand. Offshore Victorian gas production was down by 1.9 PJ in April compared with a year earlier but this appears to reflect lower gas demand for power generation rather than a fall in other demand," it said.