AUSTRALIA has jumped ahead of Qatar to become the largest single supplier of LNG to energy-starved Japan for the first time.
News Ltd reports new figures show that despite complaints from Japanese utilities about the costs and worries over project blowouts, Australia was cheaper than all but six of the 21 suppliers of gas to Japan.
The figures will be welcomed by Australia's LNG industry during a time of rising uncertainty as Japan, Korea and other large buyers strive to win approval to import shale gas from the US to cut their energy bills.
At the same time, high wages and environmental sensitivities are driving up the cost of production in Australia and placing projects in the $175 billion pipeline of LNG proposals in jeopardy.
Japan has long been by far the biggest buyer of Australian LNG, purchasing 70% of exports.