Report: Global Natural Gas Demand to Rise 34% by 2050

•LNG to overtake long-distance pipeline trade by 2026

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

A new report from the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) has projected a significant growth for the natural gas sector, predicting that global demand for natural gas would rise 34 per cent by 2050.

The eighth edition of the GECF’s Global Gas Outlook 2050 report made optimistic global forecasts on the future of natural gas, projecting a rise in demand from 4.02 trillion cubic metres (tcm) in 2022 to 5.36tcm in 2050.

Total global production was also forecast to grow by 33 per cent to reach 5.3tcm by 2050.

Much of the projected growth were attributed to the rise in demand for blue hydrogen – hydrogen resulting from a production process fueled by natural gas coupled with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology to limit emissions. Hydrogen is frequently touted as the solution for decarbonising hard-to-abate industrial sectors.

However, the report noted that the lion’s share of demand expansion comes from the power generation sector, which constitutes 37 per cent of the total predicted demand increase.

This was due to greater demand for electrification alongside global efforts to phase out coal-fired power plants.

It predicted that natural gas would become an important source of back-up power as renewables usage grows.

As regard to trade, liquefied natural gas (LNG) was predicted to overtake long-distance pipeline trade by 2026.

LNG trade was expected to more than double by 2050 to eventually constitute 64 per cent of traded gas.

The LNG share of European Union (EU) gas imports was set to skyrocket by 2030, rising from 24 per cent in 2022 to 46 per cent by 2030.

According to the report, production of natural gas was, “set for major regional shifts”, with Africa, Eurasia and the Middle East predicted to gain market share to account for 10 per cent, 22 per cent and 22 per cent of global natural gas production, respectively, by 2050.

As a result, North America’s market share of natural gas production is set to decline to 26 per cent.

In 2022, Africa exported approximately 42 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG – or around 5.7 per cent of global LNG exports.

Historically, Algeria and Nigeria have been the largest African exporters of LNG, with several exporting terminals operating for decades.

With six trains, the Nigeria terminal has an LNG production capacity of 22mtpa, which is expected to increase to 30mtpa by 2030.

In the foreword the GECF’s Global Gas Outlook 2050 report, which was formally launched at the GECF headquarters in Doha, Qatar, Mohamed Hamel, secretary-general of the GECF, said: “For socio-economic development, environmental protection, and to ensure that no one is left behind, the world requires consuming more natural gas, not less.

“The year 2023 marked a significant turning point, serving as a stark reminder that energy transitions are precisely that – gradual changes, not instantaneous transformations.

“Natural gas, along with renewables and cleaner hydrocarbon technologies, provides a realistic pathway to limit global temperature increases to below two degrees Celsius, concurrently supporting poverty eradication and socio-economic development, which are the overriding priorities of developing country Parties under the UNFCCC.”

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