Update March 23. Another big LNG (liquefied natural gas) project has been halted before completion. This time it’s the $40 billion Browse project owned by Australia’s Woodside Petroleum (WOPEY) and its partners. The project is the biggest to be put on hold so far thanks to the plunge in natural gas prices. This, and other cancellations, is good news for Cheniere Energy (LNG), which shipped its first cargo of LNG from its Sabine Pass project last month. The Cheniere tankerful of LNG is the first natural gas exported from the United States. That first mover advantage is a big deal since it enables Cheniere to beat a wave of new projects to market. But the fear has been that these new projects would sink an already foundering LNG market under an ocean of supply. Australia has been seen as an especially big threat to U.S. exports because the country, home to Browse, is so close to lucrative Asian markets. Before the most recent round of project postponements, Australia was forecast to become the worlds largest LNG exporter by 2018, taking over the top spot from Qatar. The global oversupply of LNG was forecast, again before recent postponements, to last until 2021-2022. (LNG prices in Asian markets have dropped by 45% in the last year.) The cancellation of Browse comes just as Chevron’s (CVX) $54 billion Gorgon LNG project in Western Australia comes on line. That project, the world’s most expensive, took six years to build. Cheniere Energy is a member of my Jubak Picks portfolio.
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