IEA (2020), Natural Gas Information: Overview, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/natural-gas-information-overview
In this report
In 2019 global production of natural gas hit a new high, breaking the 4 Tcm threshold for the first time with 4 088 Bcm produced, +3.3% compared to 2018.
Since the financial crisis, natural gas production has been steadily increasing at an annually compounded growth rate of 2.7%.
At the OECD level, total natural gas production experienced a 6.1% increase, passing the 1.5 Tcm threshold for the first time. This boost was driven by the OECD Americas region for the second consecutive year, as the United States remains the largest natural gas producer, with an increment of 88.3 Bcm (+10.2%) in 2019.
Additionally, OECD Asia Oceania observed a continued increase and contributed by 24.9 Bcm, galvanized by Australia (+20.7%, +24.4 Bcm in 2019). On the other hand, natural gas production in OECD Europe contracted by 15.5 Bcm (-6.6%), with diminutions of 6.8 Bcm in Norway and 5 Bcm in the Netherlands following the enforcement of production caps on the Groningen field.
In 2019, global demand for natural gas increased by 1.5% compared to 2018, that is a 57.9 Bcm addition, up to 3 986 Bcm.
At the OECD level, natural gas demand was boosted by 1.9% in 2019, 34.5 Bcm more than in 2018. This increase is due to the OECD Americas (+22.3 Bcm) coupled with OECD Europe (+13.9 Bcm). The incremental demand came mostly from the United States (+22.2 Bcm), Germany (+6.7 Bcm) and Australia (+6.7 Bcm), but those volumes were partially offset by the decreases experienced in Japan (-5.6 Bcm), Turkey (-4.7 Bcm) and Korea (-3.0 Bcm).
Similarly, demand for natural gas in non-OECD countries grew 1.1%, which represents an increase of 23.4 Bcm. That increase was largely driven by the 24.1 Bcm of additional demand observed in China in 2019, backed up by Non-OECD Europe and Eurasia where Turkmenistan experienced a 23.3% growth (+6.1 Bcm). Several countries in the Non-OECD Middle East region also contributed: Iran (+3.8 Bcm), Iraq (+3.4 Bcm), Kuwait (+2.5 Bcm) and Bahrain (+2.0 Bcm).
Global imports reached the 1.2 Tcm mark in 2019, with 55.5 Bcm more of natural gas traded than in 2018. Similar to the trend observed since 2017, this increase in trade is coming exclusively from the development of LNG imports, with increments of 19.4 Bcm and 46.2 Bcm in 2019 for non-OECD countries and OECD countries respectively. Volumes of LNG accounted for 38.1% of the exchanges of natural gas in 2019, while they stood at 34.3% in 2018.
China consolidated its importance as a driver of global LNG dynamics next to Japan and Korea. For the second consecutive year, the highest increase in LNG imported volumes was experienced in China with 11.8 Bcm more than in 2018, followed by the United Kingdom where an additional 11.3 Bcm were shipped in 2019.
In terms of import origins, Qatar and Australia remain the first two LNG providers to OECD countries with respectively 59.1 Bcm and 51.2 Bcm of LNG exported in 2019. The United States has now become the third largest exporter of LNG to the OECD with an additional 18.0 Bcm in 2019, up to 32.0 Bcm exported. Russia is next, totalling 26.1 Bcm of LNG exports in 2019.
For LNG imports prices, there was only a marginal decrease in Japan (-0.1%), while the European Union experienced a more severe drop (-21.7%), now being cheaper than the prices observed in the United States after its 17.0% increase.
Those variations brought the three prices closer than before and they are now within a band of 2.22 USD/MMBtu, the smallest of the decade.
These price trends are a reflection of the relative positions of different regions in the LNG market, with the United States being a net exporter of natural gas for the fourth consecutive year.