This article is the fourth in a series on BP’s recently-released Statistical Review of World Energy 2019. The Review provides a comprehensive picture of supply and demand for major energy sources on a country-level basis. Previous articles covered carbon dioxide emissions, petroleum supply and demand, and the production and consumption of coal.
Today, I want to cover the production and consumption of natural gas.
Of the fossil fuels, natural gas has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy consumed. For that reason, natural gas has become one of the fuels of choice for countries looking to lower carbon dioxide emissions.
For more than 50 years, natural gas demand has an almost uninterrupted track record of growth. Since BP began tracking the numbers in 1965, global natural gas consumption has increased by more than a factor of six, compared to a tripling of global oil consumption over that same time.
The U.S. remains the world leader in both consumption and production of natural gas. The 79.1 billion cubic feet (BCF) the U.S. consumed in 2018 was nearly as much as the entire Asia Pacific region consumed (79.9 BCF), and 80% more than the 44.0 BCF consumed by Russia, the world’s second largest consumer.
Natural gas consumption is growing in all regions of the world except for Europe, which saw a 1.0% average annual decline over the past decade. At the other extreme, average annual consumption increased over the past decade by 5.6% in the Middle East, and 5.0% in the Asia Pacific region.
The U.S. became the world’s top natural gas producer as a result of the shale gas boom. In 2005, the U.S. was well behind Russian in second place for overall natural gas production. But between 2005 and 2018, U.S. natural gas production rose by 70% as the U.S. surged into the lead. Last year, the U.S. extended its lead as it added another 11.5% to total natural gas production. Russia increased its natural gas production last year by 5.3%.
In 2018, the U.S. produced 21.5% of the world’s natural gas, with Russia coming in second at 17.3%. The U.S. produced more natural gas last year than the entire Middle East, which accounted for 17.8% of the world’s natural gas production in 2018.
Russia continues to dominate the global natural gas trade, accounting for 26% of global natural gas exports. But U.S. natural gas exports continue to grow rapidly. U.S. pipeline exports grew for the fourth straight year, with Mexico receiving 68% of the total, and Canada the remaining 32%.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the U.S. increased by 65% from 2017 to 2018. The U.S. exported LNG to about two dozen countries in 2018. Asia-Pacific has been the fastest growth market for U.S. LNG exports, receiving 53% of all U.S. LNG exports in 2018.
The only sector that has grown faster than natural gas is renewables. I will cover that sector in the next article.