APPEA slams Credit Suisse over LNG claims

CREDIT Suisse has quickly received industry criticism over its recent claims that Queensland’s LNG projects are facing a “slow train crash” due to gas supply shortfalls.

Blair Price

While the Santos-led Gladstone LNG project is typically speculated to be the most undersupplied, Credit Suisse reportedly said all three of the Curtis Island based, CSG-to-LNG projects were short by up to 8800 petajoules of gas reserves needed to fulfil 20-year LNG sales contracts.

Fairfax Media said this amount equated to 12 times Australia’s annual gas consumption when Western Australia and the Northern Territory were excluded.

Credit Suisse analyst Mark Samter, who last month had to retract his widely publicised call that Santos shares were “worthless”, said the gas shortage situation had become a major political issue and that a restructuring of the state’s gas export scene could be required to avoid a financial crisis.

“The sad reality is there are just no winners in this whole situation,” he said, according to Fairfax.

The analyst implied that the three LNG projects would not get returns on the $75 billion spent on their development while domestic gas users might struggle to obtain any gas by the end of the decade.

“It's created a mess really for the country. It's not just for the producers and the buyers," Samter said.

"There's a slow train crash happening and it doesn't look like much is being done to resolve it."

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association CEO David Byers pointed out that future exploration and appraisal drilling in CSG fields could unlock more supply.

"It is not the case that each joint venture requires all the gas to meet all 20 years of gas supply right now," Byers said.

"That's like asking a shop that sells Coke to have 20 years' worth of Coke on hand at any one time."

He also took aim at Credit Suisse.

"It is of great concern that an international financial institution such as Credit Suisse would use such uninformed and alarmist language about an industry that offers outstanding economic opportunities for Queensland and the nation," he said.

While Queensland Curtis LNG operator BG Group and GLNG operator Santos declined to comment on the broker’s views, Origin Energy said its CSG reserves were sufficient to support the Australia Pacific LNG project it operates.

The wild card in the supply front is Arrow Energy, which has shelved its Curtis Island-based LNG plans and is considering opportunities for “collaboration with one or more of the existing LNG projects”

GLNG partner Gladstone Total also revealed in December that it was “no secret” that this Santos-led joint venture was negotiating with Arrow.