AUSTRALIAN shipments of liquefied natural gas in January 2021 were higher compared with December 2020, primarily due to increased production at the Pluto project and the restart of production at the Prelude project, according to the latest monthly LNG report from EnergyQuest.

Australian projects shipped 6.7 million tonnes (97 cargoes) in January, compared with 6.5Mt (96 cargoes) in December. The monthly record for shipments was 7.1 Mt in December 2019.

Australia’s January shipments were 78.5Mtpa on an annualised basis.

East coast projects shipped 2.068Mt (31 cargoes) in January, just below the record set in December of 2.186Mt. The east coast projects operated at 96% of nameplate capacity during January.

Cargo delays subsided considerably during January. EnergyQuest estimates only two Australian cargoes were delayed for more than three days awaiting final destination orders during January, after nine December cargoes were delayed and 16 in November.

Deliveries to major North Asian markets were significantly lower in January 2021 compared with December 2020. This reflects the fall in shipments in December due to disruptions at Gorgon, Wheatstone and Ichthys.

Australian projects delivered a total of 94 cargoes to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in January, well down from 100 cargoes a month earlier. There were eight fewer deliveries to China, four less to Taiwan, four more to Korea two more to Japan compared with December 2020.

As of 29 January, the Platts JKM LNG spot price for March was US$8.76/MMBtu on the back of a freer shipping market, and warmer temperatures in Asia.

The Gladstone LNG producers had a production deficit in January, with total production from LNG producers 2.8PJ less than total LNG exports. This is lower compared with December when the producers had a 6.6PJ deficit. LNG producers had a surplus of 7.5PJ in January 2020.

Gas production from Moomba and offshore Victoria was down by 1.8PJ including from storage compared with December but higher compared to a year ago.

East coast electricity generation was down by 5% in January compared with a year earlier due to a cooler summer and COVID-19. With increased generation from solar PV, operational (i.e. commercial) generation was down by 7.1%.

Reflecting lower demand and higher renewable generation, generation from coal was down by 10% and from gas by 38% on a year earlier. East coast gas use for generation was down, by 4.76PJ (-41%) on a year earlier and 0.60PJ lower compared with December, being replaced by solar and wind generation.