Published June 2005
As Natural gas is rapidly becoming a strategic fuel of geopolitical importance. Gas has grown from a marginal fuel consumed in regionally disconnected markets to a fuel that is now being transported from remote sites across great distances. Increasingly, natural gas is the fuel of choice for consumers seeking its relatively low environmental impact, especially for electric power generation. For example, the International Energy Agency predicts that the electric power sector will account for 60% of the increase in future gas demand. As a result, world gas consumption is projected to more than double over the next three decades, rising from 23% to 28% of world total primary energy demand by 2030, and surpassing coal as the world’s number two energy source. Eventually, gas may even overtake oil’s number one position as a primary energy source in many large industrialized economies.
The growing importance of natural gas imports from remote regions to the world’s modern economies will force new thinking about energy supply and energy security. This thinking will need to be backed with technology improvements, reduced logistics costs, and international co-operation to meet global long-term demand for natural gas.
In this review, we first put the use of natural gas as an energy source versus a chemical feedstock into perspective. Next, we overview the production potential of remote or stranded gas. Then we discuss the technology and operational elements involved in bringing remote gas to market through long distance pipeline production systems. We next present a profile of current natural gas production around the world and then conclude with potential global developments in the natural gas pipeline trade of the future.