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Feature Reports

Natural Gas Producers and Consumers

© ZYLBERMAN LAURENT / TOTAL

Natural gas is the third most widely used energy source worldwide. Reserves are more widely distributed geographically than oil, although almost half of conventional reserves are located in Russia, Iran and Qatar. The United States is the world’s leading gas producer. It produces shale gas, a so-called unconventional natural gas. 

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Global Gas Consumption

The United States is still by far the leading consumer of natural gas, consuming more than Russia, Iran and China – the world's second, third and fourth largest gas consumers – combined.

Consumption of gas, like oil, has fallen sharply in Russia due to the country's economic crisis. In Ukraine, where gas consumption had already declined by more than 15% between 2013 and 2014, consumption slowed further by more than 20%. Due to its continuing conflict with Russia over the question of tariffs, Ukraine stopped sourcing its gas directly from Russia at the end of 2015, depending on deliveries from Europe instead. However, it is expected to start buying gas from Russia again in 2016.

Consumption in European countries has returned to normal levels after a very sharp decline in 2014 due to exceptionally mild weather conditions.

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Global Gas Production

Global gas production, led by the United States, Iran and Norway, remained on a steady growth trend, while production in Russia continued to decline, albeit at a slower rate. Russia is highly dependent on gas purchases from Europe, which slumped between 2013 and 2014, and did not fully recover during 2015, due to the extremely mild weather conditions.

Norway is actively exploiting its gas reserves in the Arctic Ocean and for the first time in 2015 it exported more gas than Russia to Western Europe (excluding former Soviet Union countries). Meanwhile the Netherlands, Europe's No. 2 gas producer, was forced to slash production for the second year in a row for reasons that had nothing to do with the market: seismic movements in the major gas field around Groningen in the north of the country.

 

 

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Natural Gas Reserves

Three countries - Russia, Iran and Qatar - currently account for 49% of the world’s proved conventional natural gas reserves. The figures for unconventional gas reserves (shale gasShale gas is found in deeply buried clayey sedimentary rock that is both the source rock and the reservoir for the gas..., tight gas and coalbed methaneThe main component of natural gas deposits and oil deposit gas caps. Methane is produced naturally by landfills...) have not been accurately estimated. In 2012, unconventional gas made up 50% of reserves in the United States. In other countries, such as Mexico, China and Australia, estimates of unconventional reserves are continually being revised upward. However, local communities are often opposed to the development of unconventional gas reserves.

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