Developing the Next Wave of Gas Supply to Asia-Pacific Markets

Pierre R, Breber

By Pierre R. Breber, Corporate Vice President and President, Chevron Gas and Midstream

Remarks at the Gastech Conference and Exhibition

Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 24, 2014

Thank you, Mark, and thank you to the Gastech organizers for inviting me to speak today.

This is my first chance to speak at an industry forum since I began leading Chevron's Gas and Midstream businesses in January, and I'm honored to be part of this distinguished panel.

I recently lived in Thailand, working across China, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia, so I have a keen interest in today's topic. My view is that we're going to need all sources of natural gas supply to meet Asian gas demand in the years ahead and LNG will be the key to delivering sufficient supply – LNG from multiple projects, developed under terms that are mutually beneficial for buyers and sellers.

Let me explain.

Asia Natural Gas Supply and Demand

Asian demand for gas is expected to grow 75 percent by 2025 and the region is going to need domestic natural gas, pipeline imports, and LNG to supply this growth. Domestic natural gas should be the first resource developed. It provides jobs, taxes, royalties, and enables local industries and economies to grow through reliable and affordable energy.

Chevron has seen this first-hand, as the largest domestic producer of natural gas in Thailand and Bangladesh. But not all gas consumers in Asia have sufficient domestic resources to draw from. That leaves the balance of Asian natural gas demand – over 40 percent – to be met through imports, by pipeline and LNG.

Most analysts forecast that by 2025 Asian demand for LNG will double. To meet this demand, a large number of new greenfield LNG projects will need to be built to supplement the emerging wave of US brownfields. Yet there are challenges to buyers and sellers in bringing the next wave of greenfield LNG to market. The value proposition underpinning the momentum of the U.S. brownfield projects is not likely to apply to greenfield developments. It reflects unique and totally unexpected circumstances.

As recently as 2010, the U.S. government projected the country would have to import around 30 million tons of LNG per year and a number of new onshore LNG import terminals were built. But those import facilities are largely idle because, as we all know, through the application of technology and innovation the U.S. unlocked its vast resource of natural gas from shale. Now, the country has sufficient domestic supplies and is moving to export LNG.

In summary, a series of completely unexpected factors combined to create a unique situation. And as a result, US brownfield projects have certain advantages: they have a low-cost resource, existing pipelines that can be reversed, and brownfield sites with tanks and jetties already built. But accessing these exports won't be without challenges – including the risk of cost escalation and project delays that the industry has seen elsewhere.

In the end, the U.S. brownfield developments are likely to play an important role in the global market, but they will represent just the latest wave of LNG supply following those in Qatar and Australia.

So how do we enable the next wave after the US?

Global LNG Supply and Demand

Looking out to 2025, most analysts expect U.S. LNG projects will provide about one-third of the additional LNG required to meet global demand. That leaves a big opportunity: over 100 million tons per year of new LNG to come onto the market. Much of this will be met by greenfield LNG – projects that will be more capital-intensive than brownfield counterparts. Greenfield projects, integrated from the resource to the customer, have been the foundation of the LNG market and provided mutual benefits to buyers and sellers for many years. 

Chevron has learned this first-hand as operator of the greenfield Gorgon and Wheatstone projects. Those projects work in part by inviting LNG buyers to take upstream ownership, providing transparency and insight into the cost to supply LNG.

And we'll find a way to deliver the next wave of greenfield projects, but we must acknowledge that the capital costs of U.S. brownfield projects are unlikely to apply elsewhere in the world. The fact is that they benefit from the sunk investments in regas plants. 

A different value proposition is required to enable the next wave of greenfield LNG. Sellers need a revenue stream that supports an economic investment, and buyers need reliable supply that is competitive with their energy alternatives. To move forward, buyers and sellers must come together on contracts that are mutually beneficial.

In closing, the challenges before us are significant, but so are the capabilities of the various partners in the natural gas sector. I know we can find common ground. We've done it in the past and we'll work hard to do it again – to deliver LNG to support Asia's economic expansion and development.

Published: March 2014