Global natural gas production and forecast

Most analysts focus on the proven reserves of natural gas, which is the total amount of natural gas that has been discovered and is economically viable given current technology and natural gas price levels. The world’s proven natural gas reserves are about 208 trillion m3 (7346 trillion), which is equivalent to 60 times the current annual natural gas production (BP2012a). Estimated gas proven reserves estimates from BP (BP2012a) by region. However, recoverable reserves of natural gas, the total amount of natural gas that analysts believe will be discovered or will be able to be recovered as technology advances, are considerable. The recoverable reserves of conventional natural gas alone are about 400 trillion m3, and the recoverable reserves of unconventional natural gas are equivalent to this. Based on current global gas consumption rates, these resources are sufficient to last us another 250 years.

Global natural gas production

Global natural gas production increased from 3,178.2 billion m3 (112.2 trillion) in 2010 to 3,276.2 billion m2 (115.7 trillion m2) in 2011 at a growth rate of 3.1%. The growth rate of natural gas production in the United States is as high as 7.7%, the highest on record. Excluding the impact of falling gas prices, the United States continues to maintain its status as the world’s largest natural gas producer. The second largest gas producer, Russia, has a natural gas production of 607 billion m2 (21.4 trillion). Natural gas production in Qatar and Turkmenistan is also growing rapidly, with growth rates of 25.8% and 40.6%, respectively.

More than enough to offset negative growth in Libya and the UK (-75.6% and -20.8% respectively).

Natural gas production in non-OECD countries (64.2%) is higher than in OECD countries (35.8%). The former Soviet Union recorded the largest growth rate in natural gas production in history, accounting for 23.6% of the world’s total. In contrast, the EU has recorded the highest negative growth rate of natural gas production (-11.4%) due to a combination of maturing fields, rising maintenance costs and low regional consumption levels.

Global natural gas production forecast in 2035

According to the US Energy Information Administration (ElA) forecast, global natural gas consumption will increase by 52% between 2008 and 2035, from 111 trillion ft3 in 2008 to 169 trillion in 2035. While the global recession is expected to reduce natural gas consumption by $2.0 trillion in 2009, demand will rebound in 2010, with consumption returning to or even exceeding pre-decline levels that year. According to the US Energy Information Administration’s 2011 International Energy Outlook (EIA-IEO2011) reference case assessment, between 2008 and 2035, the increase in natural gas production mainly comes from non-OECD regions. Among them, the Middle East (an increase of 15.3 trillion), the non-OECD region in Asia (11.8 trillion), the African region (7 trillion) and the non-OECD region of Europe and Eurasia (9 trillion), including Russia and other ex-Soviet states, contributed the most (see Figure 1). Over the entire forecast period, gas production in Iran and Qatar will increase by 10.7 trillion, which is almost 20% of the total increase in global gas production. Among them is an offshore gas field that is expected to make a significant contribution, which Qatar calls the North field and Iran calls it the South Pars field. The rapidly growing reserves and supplies in the outlook help increase the competitiveness of natural gas among other energy sources (EIA-IEO2011).

Global natural gas production and forecast
Figure 1- Increase in world natural gas production from 2008 to 2035 (unit trillion ft3) (Source: EIA-IEO 2011)