The Strategist

IEA: China and the US will accelerate the gas market

07/14/2017 - 18:07

Demand for gas will be growing by 1.6% per year in the next five years, faster than other hydrocarbons. The production will be growing at the same rate, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s new forecast. China's growing demand, which will account for 40% of the overall global growth, will be balanced by increased production in the US, which provides a 40% expansion of the supply.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
The IEA has slightly raised its forecast for last year's growth in gas demand, from 1.5% to 1.6% per year. Annual gas consumption by 2022 will reach 4 trillion cubic meters against 3.63 trillion cubic meters in 2016. The reason for this will be low prices, large raw materials, and the role of gas as a more environmentally friendly fuel that reduces air pollution. Almost 90% of the expected growth in demand will occur in developing economies, and primarily in China (40%). In OECD countries, the demand will be somehow sluggish. The main driver will be industrial enterprises, which will provide half of the overall growth in demand. Expansion of gas use in the chemical sector, high demand for fertilizers in India and Indonesia, as well as replacement of coal in small-scale production in China, will increase the industrial demand for gas by almost 3% per year. Demand in power generation will continue to grow, albeit at a more moderate rate - less than 1% per year.

The IEA expects that gas production will grow at the same 1.6% per year. Almost 40% of the growth will come from the largest producer, the United States, with an annual growth of 2.9%. By 2022, the United States will produce about 890 billion cubic meters of gas, or 22% of global production, more than half will be exported in the form of liquefied gas (LNG). In general, the production of LNG by 2022 will grow by 160 billion cubic meters, the leaders of growth will be the US and Australia.

The production in Russia, which is the world's second largest producer of gas, will grow only by 1.5% per year due to stagnating demand in the domestic market and unchanged demand in Europe. In 2016, Russian gas exports to Europe increased by 12% (total exports added 7% in annual terms) and reached a record level of 170 billion cubic meters.

In general, the countries of the former USSR will remain the main gas exporters, mainly due to pipelines. Moreover, in addition to European exports, the Chinese direction will become increasingly important. At the same time, the share of pipeline exports will continue to decline, and the share of LNG will increase to 38% by 2020, with the number of small exporters doubling - they will take 20% of the LNG market.