Talks About Gas

Australia, the gas giant

 By Peter Ward
About gas

Australia may not be the first place people think of when considering the world’s major gas resources, but the country could soon become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, and boasts significant reserves…

Australia is a major global player in gas exports despite the resource being only the third most abundant in the country after coal and uranium, according to a government report on gas in Australia.

Proven resources

According to the CIA World Factbook, Australia has the 18th largest proven reserves of natural gas in the world, in a list led by Russia, Iran, Qatar and the United States.
The country’s proven conventional gas resources were given a boost following the discovery of super-giant and giant gas fields in the 1970s. Super-giant gas fields mean larger than 10 trillion cubic feet, and giant gas fields are classified as holding more than 3 trillion cubic feet of gas. The country’s conventional gas resources come mainly from basins off the north-west and south-east coasts of Australia. There are also abundant unconventional gas potential, including coal seam gas (CSG), shale gas and tight gas.
CSG, also called coalbed methane or coalbed gas, or coal-mine methane, is a natural gas extracted from coal beds. It has also been known as ‘sweet gas’ because it lacks hydrogen sulfide. In coal mining the gas is a serious safety risk and the methane is stored in the solid matrix of the coal.

A huge swathe is bulldozed out of the bush to lay pipes to carry coal seam gas and waste water (Jeremy Buckingham, Flickr)

LNG exports

In recent times CSG combined with LNG exports has played an increasingly large role in the country’s petroleum industry. Three CSG projects in Queensland — Gladstone LNG, Australia Pacific LNG and Queensland Curtis LNG — have begun exporting gas. And when they reach their capacity, the country will reach a significant milestone. Qatar is currently the world’s largest exporter of LNG, but when the three LNG projects reach 25 million metric tons per year, Australia will overtake the Middle Eastern country as the largest LNG exporter. This is expected to happen at some point in 2020.
In a report released in October 2017, Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science revealed that the country’s annual LNG exports will reach 74 million tons during the year ending June 2019, which puts it on par with shipments from Qatar over the same period. It remains to be seen how long Australia can stay ahead of even level with Qatar, as the Middle Eastern country has enormous reserves yet to be exploited, and aims to increase exports in the coming years.

READ MORE: MENA’s insatiable appetite for LNG by Criselda Diala-McBride

about the author
Peter Ward
Business and technology reporter based in New York. MA in Business Journalism at Columbia University Journalism School 2013. Five years experience reporting in the U.S., the U.K., and the Middle East.