Five years ago, energy companies hungry for the next big thing started planning as many as 90 terminals to send natural gas around the globe.
Now, it seems the world only needs five more.
Consulting firm IHS Inc. says only one in every 20 projects planned are actually necessary by 2025 as weakening Asia economies, cheap coal, the return of nuclear power in Japan and the ever-expanding glut of shale supply in North America temper demand for the power-plant fuel, putting tens of billions of dollars worth of export projects at risk.
Barring an unusually cold winter in Asia, global LNG supply will outstrip demand by next year, said Trevor Sikorski, an analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. in London. Seven new plants in Australia will flood the market over the next two years. Cheniere Energy Inc. is planning the startup of its Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana this quarter.
“The global LNG industry now resembles a game of ‘musical chairs’ with far more projects than the market can absorb,” said James Taverner, an IHS analyst in Tokyo. “There is a very narrow window of opportunity for new projects that want to take final investment decision by 2020."