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IEEFA Update: There is plenty of coal and gas in the world but a volatile market is nobody’s friend

October 21, 2021
Bruce Robertson

Gas prices are continuing to surge around the world. The cost of gas is at unprecedented levels and global markets are buckling under the strain. Many countries are heavily reliant on imports of gas and high spot prices are making supplies unaffordable.

High spot prices are making supplies unaffordable

There is plenty of coal and gas in the world but current market volatility is crimping demand.

Gas prices haven’t gone up a little bit – they have multiplied. The increased volatility in gas prices globally is a feature that’s going to stay. There are going to be some extremely high prices and also some extremely low prices. That’s because we’re going through a total energy disruption at the moment, and with that, we’re seeing climate change responses.

Countries such as Japan have said that by 2030, they’re going to more than halve their use of LNG in their power sector. That means they will be putting supply effectively back into the market because they won’t be taking all their contracted gas.

On the other hand, there is enormous supply coming out of Qatar. It is looking to increase its LNG production by 64% by 2027. That’s a massive amount of LNG that will be coming onto the market looking for a home.

In January 2021, an IEEFA report noted that due to what was happening in the U.S., we were likely to see much higher prices this year, with prices forecast to double or even triple. That has come to pass. In the coming years we are likely to see increased volatility in prices as supply and demand struggle to find a balance.

There will be increased volatility in prices as supply and demand struggle to find a balance

Australia’s major clients are now looking at gas as a fuel exiting the energy system. Over time, we’re going to see them wind their way out of LNG. LNG will still form a niche fuel in terms of the need for it in manufacturing. However, gas will definitely go out of household usage in the short term and will be used less for electricity generation.

Australia has to look forward at energy sources of the future, not look backwards at energy sources of the past. Unfortunately, the country has chosen to look backwards and put all of its eggs in the ‘gas-fired recovery’ at the very time its customers are saying they don’t want the product.

This extract is from an interview IEEFA’s Bruce Robertson did with ABC’s Linda Mottram.

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Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson has been an investment analyst, fund manager and professional investor for over 36 years. He has worked with Perpetual Trustees, UBS, Nippon Life Insurance and BT.

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