By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Associate Editor

BARCELONA — The natural gas industry is expected to continue growing in the near future, with emerging Asia seen as the main driver for demand growth, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) senior analyst.
“In the near future, we do expect emerging Asia will be the main driver for natural gas demand growth… We also expect some growth from other regions, resource-rich regions such as the Middle East also North America, not just for domestic uses but also for exports,” Jean-Baptiste Dubreuil, IEA senior natural gas analyst, said during a presentation at the Gastech Exhibition & Conference here on Wednesday.
He noted natural gas demand growth will continue in the long and medium term, particularly as China is expected to be a major importer.
This is also being driven by the shift in consumption from demand growth fueled by power generation to demand growth fueled by industry, especially in emerging markets, Mr. Dubreuil said.
“We anticipate in all of the IEA long-term scenarios that natural gas will have a positive contribution to the energy mix and therefore the volumes of natural gas consumption are expected to rise in all our long-term scenarios, even the most restrictive with GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions,” he said.
However, challenges remain for the natural gas industry.
“For the future to remain bright, natural gas has to overcome a number of challenges — to remain competitive in terms of price in those price-sensitive markets in emerging Asia and Africa, and to continue to improve its environmental performance,” Mr. Dubreuil said.
The IEA senior analyst said natural gas can play a key role in “overcoming the challenges of local air pollution, climate change and energy access.”
Meanwhile, the United States is expected to become the world’s top supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2028, and remain the biggest natural gas producer to 2040, according to energy industry consultancy Wood Mackenzie at a press conference here.
Kristy Kramer, Wood Mackenzie head of Americas gas research, noted the shale gas revolution has pushed the United States to become the top gas producer in the world, accounting for 23% of total production.
“At the start of 2014, more than 50% of US gas production was from shale and today it has reached 65%. Wood Mackenzie forecasts continued production growth of 47% by 2035,” she said.
Ms. Kramer said the outlook for US natural gas is “extremely promising.”
“With an abundance of low-cost gas resource and sustained demand growth, the size of the US natural gas market will greatly expand over the next 20 years. We expect the US to be the largest natural gas producer by 2040, with production increasing to almost 130 bcfd (billion cubic feet per day) — more than 50% over today’s level,” she said.
Wood Mackenzie also raised its forecast of the LNG supply-demand gap for new projects.
“By 2035, US LNG exports are forecast to reach more than 140 mmtpa (million metric ton per annum) — far above that of Qatar (100 mmtpa) and Australia (80 mmtpa) as the next largest exporters,” Ms. Kramer said.
The bullish outlook on the US natural gas market comes as Gastech’s next edition will be held in Houston in September 2019.
“Houston is effectively the hub of all the energy activity in the US,” Ms. Kramer added.