Fast growing Turkey is responsible for nearly half of the gas power plant projects under construction in Europe. Starting last year, Turkey has agreed to import LNG from Algeria for 10 years, upping current imports a bit to 0.5 Bcf/day of LNG from Algeria. But, outside of Turkey, Europe isn’t thought of as a growing market as more renewables, efficiency, coal, and slow economic growth have cut into demand. Thus, “Algeria to Supply Six LNG Shipments to Egypt.”
It is quite possible, however, that faced with “More Than Half of U.S. LNG Is Destined for Europe,” Algeria, Russia, and other big European suppliers of natural gas might start a “price war” against American gas to maintain market share, not all that different than what Saudi Arabia s is doing against our shale oil.
Ultimately though, Algeria will also be looking to supply its LNG to Asia, where customers typically pay a premium using more oil-indexed, long-term prices. “Algeria to Boost Gas Shipments to Asia on Expanded LNG Capacity.” Today’s sunken oil and LNG prices of course are making this more remote, and Asia accounts for less than 15% of Algeria’s exports.
But, the energy-hungry economies of Asia, which account for 75% of all LNG demand, hold the highest future growth rates, driven more so by China and India than traditional LNG giants Japan and South Korea. Algeria now exports just 0.3 bcm of LNG to China and 0.2 Bcm to India. And there will be plenty of new opportunities for ALL LNG exporters: already with 33 importing nations, WoodMac sees 50 new LNG markets possible by 2025.
Still, Algeria is challenged to diversify its list of customers outside Europe for a few reasons, higher transport costs, intense international LNG competition (namely from Qatar, Australia, and the U.S.), and the re-direction of exports of piped gas to LNG would mean new and costly infrastructure since they would come from different fields.
The good news for Algeria is that some of the trends flattening/lowering Europe’s natural gas demand appear temporary, namely demand destruction from stagnant economic growth. For example, pushing other European nations to follow, “France is preparing to introduce a floor price for carbon emissions” to curb coal and favor gas. And Western leaders in general continue to overstate the ability of non-dispatchable renewables to displace dispatchable natural gas.
With known limitations in new domestic production, Europe’s LNG imports could double by 2020, to 10-12 Bcf/day. Europe has significant spare import capacity to take more supply, and LNG demand in 2015 was up a hefty 16%. So, although facing a shrinking gap between production and demand, Algeria can at least known that the import needs of its most vital customer aren’t going away.
Most importantly for us, Algeria’s gas export predicament is just another example of how those involved in the business of exporting U.S. LNG must simply do a better job at telling us of the widening opportunities in this quickly globalizing market. For example, I’ve also documented problems in Norway and the Middle East in supplying gas and LNG, and the growing imperative for us to help supply natural gas in our post COP21 world.