BREE forecasts improvements for oil and gas in 2014

AUSTRALIAN oil and gas production is set to move higher in 2013-14, with growing overseas demand pushing most prices higher, according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics.

Andrew Duffy

According to BREE’s latest resources and energy quarterly, Australian gas production hit 63 billion cubic metres in 2012-13, a 13% rise on 2011-12.

The start of production at Woodside’s Pluto LNG project, along with stronger production in other parts of Western Australia’s North West Shelf, helped deliver a large portion of the gains.

Gas production in the September quarter was up 6% on the previous quarter, but despite the strong performance BREE said growth in 2013-14 would level at about 2%.

The slowdown was attributed to lower expectations for domestic gas demand and limited additional supply to the eastern market, along with less opportunity for gains at other operations.

Most of next year’s production growth was forecast to come from WA, particularly the Macedon field.

For the gas market BREE said domestic prices presented a mixed picture in the September quarter, with Apache and Woodside both reporting lower prices.

Three short-term trading markets in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide also reported lower prices, and the Victorian market also slowed.

A warmer than expected winter and the rising share of renewables was attributed to the fall, but it wasn’t all bad news for domestic gas developers.

BREE said there were continued reports of new contracts being signed well above historic averages, at around $8-$10 per gigajoule, and the bright spots would continue in some areas.

“Higher new contract prices, which are expected to start in coming years, generally reflect uncertainty in the eastern market and a perception of impending supply tightness as LNG projects in Gladstone begin operations in 2014-15,” it said.

In other parts of the market BREE said crude oil and condensate production was forecast to increase by 2% to 374 million barrels a day and exports would rise by 2.4% to 331,000 barrels a day, relative to 2012-13.

It comes after a soft performance this year, with production falling from 415 million barrels a day in 2011-12 to 366 in 2012-13.

For next year a lower dollar is expected to boost exports and offset lower prices, and as a result Australia’s crude oil and condensate export earnings should rise strongly by 14% to $14.2 billion.