Natural gas worldwide

Global gas consumption rose by 2.2% last year (2012), which was slightly below the average of the last 10 years (2.7%). Above-average consumption was recorded in South and Central America, Africa and North America, where the US stood out most (growth of 4.1%). China and Japan are still the largest gas consumers is Asia, both recording 10% growth in natural gas consumption last year. The picture is different in Europe where consumption was down by 2.3%, while the decline was slightly higher in the former Soviet republics, at 2.6%.

In global terms, natural gas accounted for 23.9% of all energy sources. Natural gas consumption is rising primarily in non-OECD countries. This can be attributed to China, which ranks fourth globally in terms of consumption, immediately after Iran, accounting for 40% among non-OECD countries. The US and Russia are locked solidly into the first two places. Together, the two aforementioned countries consume more than a third of global natural gas production.

Global natural gas production also recorded growth of 1.9%. Contributing most to that growth was the US, where production was up 4.7%. The US surpassed Russia in terms of natural gas production: last year the US produced 681.4 billion m3 of natural gas, or 20.4% of global production, while Russia produced 592.3 billion m3 of natural gas, or 17.6% of global production. The reason lies primarily in the production of natural gas using the unconventional method of fracking, which has flourished in the US.

  • Natural gas and crude oil are extracted from shale by fracturing rock deep below the earth’s surface using chemically enhanced, high-pressure water jets. Although this method of extracting natural gas and crude oil has been around for 40 years, new technology and new deposits have resulted in the resurgence of production.

Among major producers, growth in production was recorded by Saudi Arabia (11.1% to 102 billion m3), Norway (12.6% to 114.9 billion m3), Qatar (7.8% to 157 billion m3) and Iran (5.4% to 160 billion m3). Among the top 10 natural gas producers, only Russia (2.7%) and Canada (2.3% to 156.5 billion m3) recorded a drop in production.

The largest stocks of natural gas can be found in Iran (33,600 billion m3), followed by Russia (32,900 billion m3) and Qatar (25,100 billion m3). As the largest producer in the world, the US ranks fifth with stocks totalling 8,500 billion m3. Current global stocks amount to 187,300 billion m3, which would suffice for 55.7 years at today’s rate of consumption.

Demand is expected to rise by 2.4% annually over the next five years, with annual consumption reaching 3,900 billion m3 by 2018. The highest growth is expected in Asia, followed by the US and the Middle East.
Sources: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013, OECD/IEA Report 2013, European Commission Quarterly Report on European Gas Markets 2013.

 

Natural gas

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