The global market is increasingly diversified
Asia is the unquestionable leader among LNG importers. Japan has the highest number of regasification terminals (over 30) and South Korea boasts itself about the biggest plant for processing liquefied gas – Incheon. Its annual regasification capacity amounts to 44 billion cubic metres. The European giant – UK’s Milford Haven in South Hook with its 21 billion cubic metre capacity looks rather small compared to Incheon. The biggest LNG tank of 3 million cubic metre capacity is located in South Korea.
Compared to Asian countries, Europe has not established such an extensive network of LNG terminals, because for many years the emphasis was put on expanding the network of pipelines. However, the situation in Europe changed and now there are over 20 LNG terminals, new ones are being built or designed. Europe's main LNG suppliers are Qatar and Algeria. Qatar is the world's biggest LNG exporter – in 2011 it sold 101 billion cubic metres of natural (74 million tons equivalent). Malaysia, with 24 million ton export, came second.
New players may soon enter the game. The LNG market in Australia is gaining momentum; so far, there are three export terminals (North West Shelf, Darwin and Pluto) whose total capacity exceeds 33 billion cubic metres, but three more, currently under construction, will increase the country’s export capacity by 40 billion cubic metres. According to The Geopolitics of Natural Gas by the Harvard University and Rice University, Australia may pose a threat to Qatar around 2030.
Africa, particularly Nigeria, is preparing for a market launch. The prospects of US exports based on shale gas are yet to be seen. The United States do not allow for unrestricted export of all natural resources including natural gas. Producers must secure a license from the Department of Energy, unless the importing country had signed the Free Trade Agreement with the USA. This being a case, the license is granted automatically. If talks between the European Union and the United States about free trade conclude successfully, the LNG export market may welcome a new, strong player.