February 1, 2019 / 5:26 AM / 9 months ago

Australia's LNG exports slip behind Qatar in January on outage

* Australia’s Jan exports dip 6.5 percent from Dec - Eikon

* Qatar exports rise back to overtake Australia

* Chevron’s Gorgon train 3 remains shut - sources

* Asian demand tepid due to mild winter - sources

By Jessica Jaganathan

SINGAPORE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Australia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports fell in January due to lower production from an LNG plant and a bout of hot weather, pushing exports below rival Qatar, according to export data in Refinitiv Eikon.

Monthly exports from Australia, which overtook Qatar as the world’s top LNG exporter last November, dipped 6.5 percent from December to about 6.26 million tonnes of the super chilled fuel.

Qatar, meanwhile, ramped up exports in January by about 4.3 percent from the previous month to about 6.8 million tonnes, the data showed.

Australia’s exports have grown rapidly following the start-up of new projects.

However, one of three production trains at Chevron Corp’s Gorgon LNG project in Western Australia remains shut after it was halted in mid-January to address a mechanical issue, industry sources said on Friday.

A Chevron spokesman declined to comment.

The Gorgon train shutdown was the main reason for the drop in Australian LNG exports, with east coast LNG plants around Gladstone performing well, said Wood Mackenzie analyst Nicholas Browne.

“Under extremely hot temperatures the efficiency of liquefaction plants will be impacted somewhat,” he added.

Australia endured its hottest month on record in January, with the west coast facing hot, dry weather over the next three months.

Asian spot LNG prices LNG-AS have also fallen to a nine-month low on subdued demand in North Asia due to a warmer than winter season.

“With (Asian spot prices) in the $7s, there is less incentive to push the trains,” an Australia-based industry source said, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak with media.

Further out, Australia is expected to regain its position as world’s largest LNG supplier by capacity as output is ramped up from new projects such as Ichthys, run by Japan’s Inpex Corp , and Royal Dutch Shell’s Prelude, said James Taverner of energy consultancy IHS Markit.

However, export growth will depend on the availability of feedstock from east coast coal seam gas wells, he added. (Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; editing by Richard Pullin)

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