JUST a few years after it started, Australia's liquefied natural gas bonanza may be drawing to a close, throttled by swelling costs, tightening credit and mounting foreign competition to supply Asian buyers.
New Australian projects have been getting approved at a furious pace, with six kicked off in the past 18 months. About $180 billion worth of LNG export projects are now being built, putting the country on track to quadruple its LNG exports by the end of the decade.
With the recent approval of the $34 billion Ichthys project, Australia should also overtake Qatar as the world's top exporter of LNG by around 2017, but the window of opportunity for the giant projects appears to be closing.
"There's vastly more being offered into the pipeline now - from the United States, Russia, Canada - and so the whole supply perspective has changed and Australia now looks very vulnerable," said Tony Regan, an analyst with Tri-Zen International in Singapore.
Japan's Inpex Corp and France's Total last week approved the 8.4 million tonne-per-annum capacity Ichthys project in the Browse Basin offshore Western Australia.
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