Natural gas is essential to the world economy. Gas now accounts for almost a quarter of OECD primary energy requirements and is expected to become the second most important fuel in the world in the next decade. Industrial and residential consumers increasingly rely on natural gas to keep their houses warm, their lights on and their factories running.
Meanwhile the gas industry itself has entered a new phase. Where gas used to be restricted to regional markets, it is now increasingly traded on a global scale. While gas production and transport requires long-term investment, now it is optimised on a short-term basis. Demand continues to grow, but local gas production has become much more expensive. How should we react? How will demand be satisfied? What changes are required to promote flexibility and trade? What are the implications for gas security, investment and interdependence? At stake is an opportunity to diversify supply and demand – but this goal is threatened by barriers to competition and investment.
The Natural Gas Market Review 2006 is the first of a new IEA publication series. It takes an unprecedented look at developments in natural gas to 2010, analysing not only the three IEA regions (Asia Pacific, North America and Europe) but also broader global trends, such as the interaction of pipeline gas with LNG which binds the regions together. The Review provides invaluable insights for understanding this dynamic market.