The full promise of natural gas will unfold once the world is past the coronavirus pandemic, according to energy ministers of the leading gas exporting countries at a Ministerial Roundtable held recently (November 11).
It’s available in abundance, flexible enough to reach far-flung corners of the globe even as it is less polluting to the environment, they said.
The latest figures obtained from the Gas Exporting Countries Forum’s (GECF) reputable Global Gas Outlook 2050 publication show that natural gas is growing at its fastest-ever rate and will become the largest global primary energy source by 2050, from 23% today to 28%.
Long-term demand is expected to grow by a remarkable 50%, from 3,950 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2019 to 5,920 bcm in 2050. Asia Pacific, North America, and the Middle East will carry more than 75% of this expected spur in demand.
Whilst the future looks promising, the short-term outlook seems dotted with perils for an industry being troubled by oversupply, bulging inventory, and now an economic recession.
Experts at the Roundtable noted that in 2020, global gas consumption was expected to decline by 2 - 3.5% from the 2019 level for the first time in more than a decade. This slump in gas consumption has been driven by a combination of notable events, including above-normal temperatures in the northern hemisphere, weaker gas demand from the power, commercial, and industrial sectors due to lockdown measures, and weaker economic growth.
Next year, global gas demand is expected to grow between 1.5 - 4% but will depend mainly on the extent of lockdown measures associated with the pandemic's resurgence, the recovery in gas demand lost due to Covid-19, as well as the weather condition in the upcoming winter. For the medium term, sustained growth in developing Asian countries, particularly China and India, are expected to contribute to an uptick in gas consumption in the coming years.