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World Energy Outlook 2015

“Where it replaces more carbon-intensive fuels or backs up the integration of renewables, natural gas is a good fit for a gradually decarbonising energy system: a consumption increase of almost 50% makes it the fastest-growing of the fossil fuels. China and the Middle East are the main centres of gas demand growth, both becoming larger consumers than the European Union, where gas use does not return to the peak reached in 2010. With gas prices already low in North America, and dragged lower elsewhere by ample supply and contractual linkages to oil prices, there is plenty of competitively priced gas seeking buyers in the early part of the Outlook. But the extent of the longer term expansion is constrained by efficiency policies, notably in the buildings sector, and competition from renewables and (in some countries) from coal in power generation; and could be limited further if deferred investment in the current low-price environment brings tighter markets in the 2020s.

One-fifth of the projected rise in global demand consists of gas transported over long distances via very capital-intensive pipeline or LNG projects. Keeping these project costs under control (contrary to numerous recent examples of overruns) will be vital to the future competitive positioning of gas. Emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, along the supply chain will dent the environmental credentials of gas if there is no concerted policy action to tackle these leaks.

Unconventional gas accounts for some 60% of the growth in global gas supply, but the spread of its development beyond North America, the home of the shale gas revolution, is more gradual and uneven. The pace of China’s unconventional gas growth is a major uncertainty:
policies encouraging this development are in place – with production projected to exceed 250 bcm by 2040 – but aspects of the geology, limited water availability and population density in some key resource-rich areas, alongside regulatory issues related to pricing, access to resources and to domestic pipelines, militate against a very rapid rise in output.” (From the Summary.)

International Energy Administration
World Energy Outlook 2015
Full report non-free.
IEA, Nov. 10, 2015


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