* Taiwan’s CPC sees LNG imports flat at 12.5 mln tonnes in 2014
* Expects LNG imports to rise to 20 mln T/yr within 10 years
By Jane Chung
GOYANG, South Korea, March 25 (Reuters) - Asian buyers of super-cooled gas in tankers will need to look for new supply out of Australia and East Africa if the Russia-Ukraine crisis prompts European utilities to go after U.S. gas exports, said the chairman of Taiwan’s state energy company.
Europe has grown increasingly worried about disruption to a major fuel source due to uncertainty over the future of Ukraine after Russia’s move to annex the Crimean peninsula. About one-third of Europe’s gas comes from Russia, with 30-40 percent of that coming via pipelines across Ukraine.
Moscow has in years past cut gas supplies amid regional disputes, and that possibility has spurred European leaders to look for ways to be less dependent on Russia, including looking to the United States gas exports expected to start up next year.
But the possibility of large volumes of U.S. gas exports heading to Europe is unlikely due to the higher prices commanded in Asia, the chairman of Taiwan’s CPC Corp told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
“Unless European countries are willing to pay the higher prices, it won’t happen,” said CPC Chairman Sheng-Chung Lin, who was in South Korea for an international gas conference.
Asian spot LNG prices LNG-AS are running around $18 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), while European LNG cargoes go for around $10 per mmBtu.
If Europe does decide to compete for U.S. LNG exports in the future, Lin said buyers in Asia would have to source supplies from new projects coming up in Australia and Mozambique.
Australia, which is expected to become the world’s largest LNG producer by 2020, has about $190 billion in liquefied gas export projects under construction.
Meanwhile, Anadarko Petroleum Corp has sold around two-thirds of its planned Mozambique LNG project to Asian customers and hopes to sell the rest soon, it chief executive said on Monday.
Anadarko CEO Al Walker said he expected the remaining third of the Mozambique LNG supplies to also go to Asian buyers.
The massive offshore Mozambique development is slated to start up its first exports in 2018, with an eventual capacity of 50 million tonnes per year of LNG.
U.S. LNG exports are slated to start up late next year, but broad shipments are not expected before 2017.
Of the world’s liquefied natural gas, about 70 percent is consumed by China, South Korea, India, Japan and Taiwan.
In terms of Taiwan’s LNG imports in 2014, CPC is expected to maintain the same level as last year at around 12.5 million tonnes, Lin said.
Within about 10 years’ time, CPC expects its imports to rise to about 20 million tonnes, he said. (Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Tom Hogue)