Global Natural Gas Consumption Regains Momentum

Saya Kitasei | Dec 20, 2011

Global natural gas consumption rebounded 7.4 percent in 2010 after a slight dip in 2009, reaching a record 111.9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).1 (See Figure 1.) Strong growth in all regions reflected the end of the recession’s dampening effect on energy consumption. In 2010, natural gas accounted for 23.8 percent of global primary energy use, a slight increase over 2009.2

Responding to revived demand, global natural gas production increased almost as much as consumption—7.3 percent—to 112.8 Tcf in 2010.3 Global proved natural gas reserves increased by only 0.3 percent to 187.1 Tcf, or 59 years of current production levels, due in large part to the rapid growth in natural gas production.4 Most of these reserves are concentrated in the Middle East (40.5 percent) and the former Soviet Union (31.3 percent).5

Several organizations have published research in the past few years suggesting that there could be as much global recoverable natural gas resources in unconventional formations as there are in conventional ones.6 These unconventional resources, including shale gas, coalbed methane, and tight sands, appear to be distributed much more broadly than conventional resources, with a 2011 shale gas assessment by the U.S. Energy Information Administration identifying world-class shale resources in almost every continent studied.7 The United States and Canada are the only two countries where unconventional gas made up a significant portion of natural gas production in 2010, but Australia, Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and China are actively pursuing shale gas development within their own borders.8

Natural Gas Figure 1

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