1. Facing new competition in the field of power generation
In recent decades, gas-fired power generation has become the main driving force for the development of the natural gas industry. As improved fuel conversion efficiency and methods are conducive to improving the environment, natural gas has therefore become the first choice for fuel conversion in new power plants and existing fuel and coal-fired power plants. However, due to concerns about higher natural gas prices and the availability of sufficient natural gas, governments and power producers in many countries have to reconsider plans for new gas-fired power generation capacity. A large amount of investment is currently underway to study clean coal technology, which will increase the competitiveness of coal. In addition, nuclear power has regained importance and poses a threat to gas-fired power generation.
2. Industrial demand may decrease
In the United States, many large industries are built using low-cost natural gas. Some of them can be switched to alternative fuels, while others may use high-priced natural gas to lose their economy. It is better to build new facilities in places where cheap natural gas can be obtained overseas.
3. Facing competition from pipeline natural gas
The increase in natural gas prices will undoubtedly promote the construction of natural gas pipelines in the northern slope of Alaska in the United States and the Mackenzie Delta in Canada. Natural gas reserves that were not economically recoverable at a low gas price have begun to be favored again. In Europe, especially in Northwest Europe and the United Kingdom, natural gas pipelines can transport large amounts of natural gas to the market, and Norway and Russia are seeking to expand pipeline natural gas supply to Europe, thereby competing for LNG. In the Mediterranean region, Libya is becoming an important pipeline natural gas supplier; Algeria is seeking to expand pipeline natural gas supply to southern Europe in order to export LNG to other regions. In the long run, Central Asia and the Middle East will also supply pipeline natural gas to Europe. In emerging Asian markets such as China and India, pipeline natural gas will also compete with LNG. In China, the West-East Gas Pipeline has begun to supply natural gas, competing with imported LNG in Shanghai. The price of China 's initial LNG contract with Australia and Indonesia is very low, but it is difficult to say in the future. In addition, Russian pipeline natural gas will also enter the Chinese market. India has discovered new natural gas reserves in its eastern seas, but the more important factor preventing LNG from entering the Indian market is price. Iran may be willing to provide India with lower price LNG.
4. The cost of liquefaction production line no longer decreases
Due to improved design, expansion of production line scale, economies of scale, and increased competition between contractors and equipment suppliers, the unit liquefaction costs of the LNG industry have been continuously reduced for 10 years. However, as steel prices and aluminum prices continue to rise, this trend of cost reduction may stop. The number and scale of LNG production lines that have been planned for construction have increased in recent years. Constructing more than 5 LNG production lines （some with a scale of 7.8 million tons per year） every year will require a lot of engineering and construction resources. At the same time, the 7.8 million ton / year production line planned by Qatar may be approaching the limit of economies of scale. Although the decline in unit costs is conducive to the expansion of the LNG industry, the total cost of the LNG supply chain is high. For example, a common LNG project with two production lines that exports Middle East LNG to the United States may cost between US $ 10 billion and US $ 12 billion.
5. Financing risk
LNG projects have good records, long-term pay-as-you-go contracts, and reputable buyers. International banks, export credit agencies, and multinational institutions are willing to provide loans to LNG projects. However, for countries where bank borrowing is prohibited, their LNG projects often do not receive loans. In recent years, some LNG projects have only signed long-term contracts for partial production, and some buyers lack credibility, which makes lenders more hesitant. In addition, financial institutions are not familiar with lending to LNG projects, and lenders must understand these projects. These projects should sell LNG to partners and sellers, not to gas distribution companies or distributors.
6. LNG carrier construction costs increase
In the past 10 years, one of the factors that promoted the rapid development of the LNG industry is the significant reduction in the cost of LNG carriers. The price of LNG carriers of average size has dropped from 220 million to 250 million US dollars in the early 1990s to about 160 million US dollars in 2000. Previously, LNG carriers were owned by LNG project joint ventures or purchasers or leased for a long time, but now lower transportation costs have stimulated the short-term lease of LNG carriers, thereby expanding LNG spot and short-term trade. This has caused an excess of LNG shipping capacity, and this situation will continue for several years. However, due to rising prices of steel and other raw materials, increased labor costs, and greater demand for ships, the construction cost of new LNG carriers has risen to US $ 200 million.
7. LNG import and regasification facilities encountered difficulties
Compared with natural gas liquefaction plant, LNG import terminal is relatively simple, safe and reliable. However, in some countries, due to local opposition, the construction of LNG terminals is very difficult. For example, in the United States, even with the approval of relevant federal regulatory agencies, there is no guarantee that LNG terminal facilities can be constructed. Between 2005 and 2015, the United States needs to build 6-10 LNG import terminals, and Europe will expand several and at least 8 new LNG terminals.