Gas Project Off Western Australia Highlights Rivalry For LNG Crown

June 21, 2011
Far across the Indian Ocean, Royal Dutch Shell has given the go-ahead to a gas project that could intensify the growing rivalry between Qatar and Australia for the title of the world's leading natural gas liquids exporter.

The crown that is now the Gulf emirate's could be snatched away within the next few years, predicts Colin Barnett, the premier of Western Australia.

"We are closing on Qatar's position," he said at a business lunch this month in Abu Dhabi. "I expect Western Australian LNG [liquefied petroleum gas] exports to triple to 160 million tonnes per annum by the end of the decade."

That would be more than double Qatar's current export capacity of 77 million tonnes per year of the super-chilled fuel.

"It will be interesting to see by 2020 whether Qatar or Australia will be the leading LNG producer," Mr Barnett added. "For sure they will be numbers one and two."

Shell's Prelude project in Australia, with an estimated capital cost of US$11.5 billion (Dh42.23bn), will be the world's first floating LNG production plant.

Announcing the final investment decision last month, the company said the facility would be the largest floating structure in the world, longer than four football fields and weighing six times as much as the largest aircraft carrier.

"Floating LNG will change the rules of the game," said Malcolm Brinded, the director of international oil and gas exploration and production at Shell. "It will allow us to access stranded offshore gasfields that otherwise would be too costly or too difficult to develop," he said.

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