(Source: IEA)
(Source: IEA)

IEA Predicts Global Demand for Gas to Rise 50% by 2035

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has launched the 2012 edition of its comprehensive publication, the World Energy Outlook (WEO). One of its stand-out predictions is that the United States could be close to self-sufficient in energy by 2035.

The WEO 2012, released in London, said major changes are under way in how the world gets its energy. North America, with its emerging utilisation of natural gas, is spearheading some fundamental developments, the booklet says. The agency also finds these changes will recast expectations about the role of different countries, regions and fuels in the global energy system.

Demand for natural gas is tipped to increase by 50% to 5 trillion cubic metres in 2035.

“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” said IEA executive director, Maria van der Hoeven. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.”

The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the US will mean a sea-change in global energy flows. In its New Policies Scenario, the US becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia by 2035.

Links between regional gas markets will strengthen as liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade becomes more flexible. While regional dynamics change, global energy demand will push ever higher, growing by more than one-third to 2035. China, India and the Middle East account for 60% of the growth; demand barely rises in the OECD, but there is a pronounced shift towards gas and renewables.

While the regional picture for natural gas varies, the global outlook over the coming decades looks to be bright, as demand increases by 50% to 5 trillion cubic metres in 2035. Nearly half of the increase in production to 2035 is from unconventional gas, with most of this coming from the United States, Australia and China. Whether demand for coal carries on rising strongly or changes course radically will depend on the strength of policy decisions around lower-emissions energy sources and changes in the price of coal relative to natural gas. In the New Policies Scenario, global coal demand increases by 21% and is heavily focused in China and India.


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