DAEGU, South Korea, Oct 17 (Reuters) - North America has pushed Australia out of the top spot for new Asian investment in gas development, with most of the supply from existing Australian projects sold off and buyers hunting for cheaper fuel, industry executives said this week.
Australia has been for the past several years the global hotspot for Asian gas investors, with $190 billion in liquefied natural gas (LNG) developments under way to take advantage of its proximity to top buyers such as Japan and South Korea.
But its seven current projects have been parcelled out to off-takers and equity stakeholders, and no new projects are expected to move forward within the next year.
That slowdown and the pull of cheap, abundant North American shale gas has turned heads towards projects just setting up for development in the United States and Canada that are aiming to fill Asia's still burgeoning LNG demand.
"The cost of Australian grassroot projects is going up ... so probably we need to pause," said Shigeru Muraki, chief executive of the energy solution division at Tokyo Gas, speaking at the World Energy Conference in South Korea.
"We're now moving to the U.S. We've already invested in two gas fields - one in Dallas and the other in Canada."
A spate of approvals on U.S. gas export projects, about 50 million tonnes a year of capacity, has removed some of the uncertainty over its LNG supplies, while Canada's vast potential is attracting rising numbers of Asian buyers and investors.
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