Report: LNG Demand to Grow at Fastest Rate since 2011, Global Glut Shrinking

Worldwide liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand is projected to grow almost nine percent this year alone — the fastest growth rate since 2011 — according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Global LNG Outlook 2017 released this week. With rising Chinese and European demand for the clean burning fuel, BNEF predicts the global oversupply to be smaller than currently anticipated — welcome news to companies whose projects have been stifled by such concerns, especially as billions of dollars in additional investment is just waiting to flow into North American LNG projects.

Spearheaded by technological advancements in oil and gas development such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, U.S. natural gas production has grown almost 40 percent over the past decade as America has become the world’s largest producer of natural gas. With such a wealth of natural resources, the United States has increasingly become the target for billions of dollars in investment for LNG facilities.

According to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC), there are 15 proposed new LNG export facilities or project expansions waiting for approval as of Aug. 28. Texas alone is home to seven LNG facilities either planned or under construction that are expected to come online over the next five years, representing a total economic impact of more than $145 billion nationally.

However, even with support for LNG export development from the current White House, there are still several projects in the U.S. waiting for investment to move forward.  As Anastacia Dialynas, lead LNG analyst for the Americas states in the BNEF report:

“Over 20% or 146MMtpa [million metric tons per annum] of proposed LNG export capacity across North America has got all the necessary government approvals. The Trump administration is supporting the LNG export industry further. However, projects face hurdles that are more economic than regulatory: finding buyers and committing to a final investment decision.”

Thankfully, the wait for investment might soon be over. BNEF estimates that demand from Europe will increase substantially in the long-term – crossing 100MMtpa by 2030 – as global demand is forecast to reach 479 MMtpa. That’s about an 85 percent increase from 2016 levels of 258 MMtpa. In the more immediate term, a significant uptick in demand is predicted to come from Asian buyers such as China and India, resulting in a drop in the estimated peak oversupply of 34 percent from BNEF’s previous forecast. As Ashish Sethia, global head of LNG analysis notes:

“Asia will continue to be the center of gravity for the world’s LNG demand, importing over 70% of the fuel until 2030. However, from 2025, China, India & ASEAN (Southeast Asia) together will import more LNG than Japan, Korea and Taiwan combined.”

LNG exports represent a tremendous opportunity for the United States.  As domestic production trends skyward and foreign countries turn to natural gas as a more environmentally friendly source of energy, this report confirms that there will be plenty of worldwide demand to accommodate the remarkable U.S. supply of natural gas made possible by fracking.

 

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