Australia's Top End Gas Production Future Not to be Overlooked

The departure of the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipment this week to China's Guangdong province under a 25 year export deal should not over-shadow the promising future for gas development in the Northern Territory.

Australian Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has welcomed the departure of the Guangdong-bound cargo but has also pointed to the blossoming prospects for LNG out of the Top End, to increasingly supply international and domestic demand.

Mr. Macfarlane has been in Darwin this week meeting with mining resource companies, including ConocoPhillips, before chairing a meeting of all state and territory energy ministers.

"The ConocoPhillips-operated LNG plant at Darwin has added a new dimension to Australia's LNG export industry, with the Northern Territory set to benefit substantially from the future development of offshore gas resources in the region."

"While the North-west shelf tends to get all the headlines it shouldn't be forgotten that the Darwin plant will export three million tonnes of LNG per year to Japan under long term contracts," said Mr. Macfarlane.

"There is also scope to expand the plant's capacity to process gas from as yet undeveloped gas discoveries such as Greater Sunrise, Evans Shoals and Caldita.

"On top of that, the Northern Territory economy will benefit from the soon to be developed Blacktip gas field, located in the Bonaparte Gulf, which will provide long term supply to the Darwin domestic gas market.

"So the NT is a quiet but significant player in the regional LNG scene and also has the potential to be a key supplier of domestic gas needs as we move more and more towards the use of LNG in our local energy market.

"As international LNG buyers look to diversify the source of their gas contracts I suspect more and more will consider buying out of the Northern Territory which offers a secure and reliable long-term supply of LNG," said Mr Macfarlane.

Australia has grown to be the world's fifth-largest LNG exporter in 2005, our exports are forecast to exceed $7 billion by 2010, on track to achieve the goal of supplying 30 percent of the Asian LNG market by 2020.