From: Supriya Kumar, Worldwatch Institute, More from this Affiliate
Published December 21, 2011 09:08 AM

Global Natural Gas Consumption Regains Momentum

Washington, D.C.—Driven by surging natural gas consumption in Asia and the United States, global use of this form of fossil fuel rebounded 7.4 percent from its 2009 slump to hit a record 111.9 trillion cubic feet ­ in 2010, according to a new Vital Signs Online report from the Worldwatch Institute. This increase puts natural gas's share of total energy consumption at 23.8 percent, a reflection of new pipelines and natural gas terminals in many countries.


The world's largest incremental increase in natural gas use occurred in the United States, where low prices triggered a 1.3 trillion-cubic-feet increase to 24.1 trillion cubic feet, just over one-fifth of global natural gas consumption. But the Asia Pacific region experienced the strongest growth as a share of 2009 consumption levels, with China, India, South Korea, and Taiwan all experiencing demand growth of over 20 percent. China, which surpassed Japan in 2009 to become Asia's largest natural gas consumer, by and large led the region’s growth spurt by consuming 3.9 trillion cubic feet, or 3.4 percent of world usage.

The former Soviet Union, which experienced the largest regional decline in natural gas consumption in 2009, saw its demand bounce back by 6.8 percent in 2010. Russia, the world's second largest natural gas consumer, single-handedly accounted for 70 percent of regional growth. In the European Union, natural gas consumption increased by 7.4 percent; however, the EU's share of global natural gas consumption is on the decline. The Middle East, which is home to some of the richest natural gas resources in the world but lacks the proper infrastructure to facilitate much domestic consumption, saw a 6.2 percent rise in natural gas demand.

Natural gas producers have responded to this revived demand with a 7.3 percent boost in production. The United States maintained its position as the leading source of natural gas, accounting for just under one-fifth of the world's total production in 2010. In Russia, which holds nearly a quarter of the world's proved natural gas reserves, production jumped 11.6 percent. In the Middle East, growth in production of natural gas far outstripped that of consumption, rising by a full 13.2 percent. Last year, Qatar and Iran alone accounted for 29.4 percent of global proved reserves.

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