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Woodside sees Qatar LNG expansion damaging US LNG growth

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Reuters are reporting that, according to the head of Australia's Woodside Petroleum, a plan by top global LNG exporter Qatar to increase output will stall the expected growth of US LNG exports.

Qatar surprised rivals this month when it lifted a self-imposed ban on development of the North Field, the world's biggest natural gas field, saying it would boost LNG output by 30% to 100 million tpy in five to seven years.

That put it on course to it take back the title of the world's top LNG exporter from Australia, which is set to overtake Qatar in the next two years.

Qatar's expansion plan will compete directly with Woodside, which is looking to develop the Browse and Scarborough fields off Western Australia within the next decade by processing gas through the North West Shelf plant or other existing facilities.

Projects that will find it harder to compete will be those that need billions of dollars in new infrastructure and coal seam gas-to-LNG projects that need continuous capital spending to drill new wells.

The International Energy Agency last week forecast the US would become the world's second largest LNG exporter by the end of 2022, however Qatar’s move may change this.

US LNG flows largely into the Atlantic market, where it competes against pipeline gas from Russia and Norway.

There are limited opportunities for US LNG into Asia due to transportation hurdles, including tight access through the Panama Canal or long distances and higher costs around South America.

Woodside co-owns the North West Shelf with BHP, BP, Chevron, Shell, Japan's Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsui & Co. 

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