Natural gas is the third most consumed source of energy in the world. Natural gas reserves are less concentrated geographically than in the natural reserves of oil, although nearly half of conventional reserves are located in Russia, Iran and Qatar. The United States is the world’s largest producer. This country produces also a so-called “unconventional” natural gas: shale gas.
Global gas consumption
Global gas consumption rose sharply from 2016 to 2017: + 3%; double the increase between 2015 and 2016.
This increase in demand is mainly due to China (+ 15%) where natural gas is used to contain the use of coal in electricity production and individual heating. China will become the first gas importer in 2019, says the International Energy Agency (IEA is an autonomous agency within the OECD, created in 1974 during the first oil shock). China has also become a major consumer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), accounting for 40% of global supply.
Several European countries, such as Germany and Italy, are also driving up demand.
Global gas production
Gas production has increased worldwide (+ 4% between 2016 and 2017) after having remained almost stable in 2016. The movement is driven by the two largest producers, the United States and Russia.
In the United States, shale gas production has raised (+ 1%) following a decline the year before. In 2017, the United States moved from being an importer to a net exporter.
Russia (+ 8.2%) benefited from rising global demand, particularly European and Chinese demand. It has initiated many gas pipeline projects that should increase its export capacity in the coming years.
Iran, the world’s third-largest producer, has increased production for domestic needs and exports to its neighbors, including Turkey. Qatar’s production has declined, but is expected to rebound with the exploitation of the North Field deposit. Egypt has developed significant new deposits that allow it to end seven years of decline.
Global reserves of natural gas
The statistics concern proven reserves of natural gas, deposits identified under economically and technically exploitable conditions.
Three countries – Iran, Russia and Qatar – currently hold nearly half of the world’s conventional natural gas reserves. The volume of unconventional resources (shale gas, coal gas, compact reservoir gas, methane hydrate) is estimated at a much higher level, but at random.
Shale gas is today mainly used in the United States. But important resources also exist, according to estimates, in China, Argentina and Algeria in particular.