The market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is changing fast, with increasing demand, new sources of supply, and a growing spot market. Over the last decade (2008 to 2018), LNG prices in the three main markets of North America, Western Europe and East Asia have diverged significantly at times, creating arbitrage opportunities for sellers.
This briefing presents two case studies of developing countries that have faced challenges in securing public revenue from their natural gas industries. Trinidad and Tobago and Peru offer two examples of developing countries that faced challenges in maximizing government revenue from LNG sales during that time. Although LNG markets are evolving, these examples offer lessons for new and prospective LNG producers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
A key area (and the focus of this briefing) is the valuation of LNG sales and the corresponding impact on government revenues.
Governments should pay close attention to LNG project structure and the long-term LNG sale and purchase agreements between LNG producers and offtakers, especially when they are related companies. Governments should push for these agreements to maximize the price flowing back to the LNG plant and the upstream producer and should favor project structures that facilitate this.
In particular, the practice of diverting LNG cargos to more lucrative export markets than the ones initially designated in offtake agreements should be regulated and monitored by governments to balance the financial incentives to LNG sellers with the interests of LNG-exporting countries. This will become increasingly important as the market becomes more liquid and sellers have more options.