Natural gas is the cleanest burning and fastest growing fossil fuel, contributing for almost one-third of total energy demand growth through the last decade, more than any other fuel.


Key findings

Year-on-year impact of lockdowns (from first day to April 15) on natural gas consumption per sector for a selection of European countries and the United States


Natural gas demand has fallen in 2020

Natural gas consumption was already falling over the first months of 2020 in major markets even before the Covid-19 pandemic, mainly due to historically mild temperatures in the northern hemisphere. Supply did not adjust to this drop in consumption, resulting in a considerable build-up of gas in storage. Demand is projected to decrease in 2020, with most of the declines in power generation.

Gas demand by region and scenario, 2018-2040


Natural gas had a remarkable year in 2018

Natural gas had a remarkable year in 2018, with a 4.6% increase in consumption accounting for nearly half of the increase in global energy demand. Since 2010, 80% of growth has been concentrated in three key regions: the United States, where the shale gas revolution is in full swing; China, where economic expansion and air quality concerns have underpinned rapid growth; and the Middle East, where gas is a gateway to economic diversification from oil. Natural gas continues to outperform coal or oil in both the Stated Policies Scenario (where gas demand grows by over a third) and the Sustainable Development Scenario (where gas demand grows modestly to 2030 before reverting to present levels by 2040).

Flaring by region in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 1970-2030


Flaring emissions must drop rapidly to get on track with the IEA's Sustainable Development Scenario

Around 140 bcm of gas was flared in 2017, equivalent to Africa’s gas consumption. This is a slight decrease from 2010 but higher than in 2000. Most flared gas is converted into CO2, resulting in emissions of around 270 MtCO2. Russia, Iraq, Iran and the United States account for almost half of flaring globally. An increasing number of government and industry commitments aim to eliminate flaring by 2030, but most are voluntary. Under the Sustainable Development Scenario, flaring rates drop rapidly and are all but eliminated by 2025.