MELBOURNE, March 29 (Reuters) - Plans by billionaire Andrew
Forrest to have a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal ready by
2022 means Australia won't suffer a supply shortfall until 2026,
two years later than previously forecast, the energy market
operator said on Monday.
"This development comes at a critical time, as existing
Victorian production is declining faster than previously
projected," Nicola Falcon, group manager of the Australian
Energy Market Operator said in a statement accompanying the
AEMO's closely watched outlook.
Producers' forecasts for maximum daily capacity from
existing, committed and anticipated southern fields in 2023 are
nearly 20% lower now than they were a year ago, AEMO said.
Gas fields in the Gippsland Basin, which largely supplies
the southern states are becoming exhausted, and losing
flexibility to ramp up output during peak winter demand.
LNG imports and gas storage will be needed to cover peak
Forrest's privately owned Squadron Energy won state approval
to build an LNG import terminal at Port Kembla in New South
Wales, aiming to be ready by late 2022.
AEMO's forecast did not include a controversial LNG import
terminal proposed by AGL Energy, which is awaiting
approval from the Victorian government. A decision is due
shortly. If approved, AGL expects to start importing by
AEMO highlighted growing uncertainty in its demand forecasts
as manufacturers switch away from carbon-based fuels to
renewable power and hydrogen.
AEMO forecast industrial demand for gas would not grow in
the next 20 years.
"Surveyed industrial users indicated their demand is
unlikely to increase, even if prices fall," the report said.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)