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, 1985-2030


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

Around 145 bcm of natural gas were flared in 2018, a slight increase from levels in previous years and broadly equal to gas demand across the continent of Africa. This resulted in emissions of roughly 275 MtCO2, as well as some methane emissions (from uncombusted portions of flares) and other GHGs such as black carbon and nitrogen oxide. Russia, Iraq, Iran, Algeria and the United States were responsible for more than half of global flaring. Several field trials have demonstrated viable technologies to reduce flaring, but at root the issue of flaring is also a question of business models. If there is inadequate provision for productive use of the gas at the project planning stage, including the necessary gas infrastructure, then finding a technology fix later on is much more difficult. There is an increasing number of voluntary government and industry commitments to eliminate flaring by 2030. The SDS relies on a rapid reduction in flaring, with government policies and industry commitment all but eliminating it by 2025.


Our work

Created in 2013, the GOTCP brings together representatives from governments, industry and academia in a global dialogue to explore the role of oil and gas technology in the energy transition. GOTCP aims to catalyse innovation across oil and gas technologies and to provide collaborative opportunities for enhancing national capabilities within both onshore and offshore activities.