“evolving Role Of Natural Gas In The Transition To A Low-carbon Energy Landscape” – Natural gas will have an increasing contribution both in the OECD and in developing markets in dealing with the economic, environmental and security challenges of the world’s energy system. However, the future expansion of natural gas should not be taken for granted. Increased competition from coal in the energy sector will have to be addressed while maintaining gas prices at a level compatible with the development of large capital-intensive projects. Only by solving this puzzle can natural gas fully meet expectations.

Gas demand growth is expected to remain strong through 2035, driven by the Middle East and China, where natural gas is advancing across all consumption sectors

“evolving Role Of Natural Gas In The Transition To A Low-carbon Energy Landscape”

➢ Increasing energy efficiency will slow the growth of global demand for primary energy and gas compared to the previous decade

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➢ Global primary energy demand will grow by 1.3% per year and natural gas demand by 1.8% per year until 2035. Natural gas will increase its share of the global energy mix from 21% in 2013 to almost 24%

➢ Approximately 75% of projected growth will come from emerging markets, driven by economic growth and oil displacement in each major consumer sector

➢ Natural gas should also be expanded in the energy sector – and to a lesser extent, in the transport sector – in OECD countries under the impetus of environmental and climate policies

➢ Asia-Oceania and the Middle East will drive demand, accounting for 42% and 24% of global growth, respectively. Asia-Oceania will become the largest consumption area after 2020, led by China.

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➢ In China, future natural gas growth will be driven by the implementation of energy and environmental policies aimed at a long-term transition from coal to cleaner fuels

➢ Natural gas production will increase significantly in every region except Europe, where it will decline. The biggest production gains will be recorded in Asia-Oceania (China, Australia), the Middle East and North America

➢ Unconventional gas will provide nearly 60% of global additional supply and will account for 32% of world gas production in 2035, up from 19% in 2013.

➢ Outside of North America, unconventional gas growth will be concentrated in China and Australia. Shale gas production will gradually develop worldwide after 2020, but will remain limited to a few countries

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➢ The increasing dependence of Europe and Asia on imports will lead to a strong expansion of net interregional gas trade, which is expected to grow by 3.1% per year until 2035.

➢ LNG trade growth will be stronger than pipeline growth and its share in net interregional trade will increase from 46% in 2013 to 50% in 2035.

➢ LNG will be supplied from an increasing number of sources and new leaders will emerge in North America, Oceania and East Africa

➢ LNG will lead to a growing internationalization of the gas market with flexible LNG prices and hubs gradually expanding in Europe and Asia

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Despite the near-term picture of abundant LNG supply, the international LNG market is expected to tighten after 2020, reflecting major investment challenges

➢ Europe and Asia will be in strong competition for access to LNG supply, which will increase international LNG spot prices

➢ In this context, strong growth in gas exports from the CIS (Russia, Central Asia) to Europe and Asia is expected. Despite the growing role of LNG, Europe will remain heavily dependent on Russian pipeline gas.

➢ In the Middle East and Latin America, growing domestic needs and political risks will limit export potential from these two regions

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Adjusting natural gas prices to encourage investment without undermining the competitiveness of natural gas (especially relative to coal) will be a major challenge.

➢ Long-term contracts and partial oil indexation in Asia will remain necessary to drive investment in gas supply projects in the absence of a fully global natural gas market

➢ In emerging markets, implementing regulatory and pricing reforms is critical to increasing imports and encouraging investment in E&P (including unconventional gas)

➢ As coal remains the main competitor, especially in the energy sector, appropriate energy policies and environmental regulations (CO2 prices) will be decisive for the successful expansion of demand for natural gas worldwide. warehouses during the summer when prices are low. [Shutterstock]

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Departing from its usual role in securing supply, gas storage is vying for a central position in Europe’s vision of a hybrid energy system combining renewable electricity and low-carbon gases such as hydrogen. But getting there won’t be smooth sailing and regulators are watching closely.

The main value of gas storage in Europe has traditionally focused on security of supply, ensuring that people can continue to heat their homes in the event of cold weather or sudden supply interruptions.

This is due to changes in the coming years. Gas storage operators are increasingly positioning themselves in new markets – first as a reserve for variable wind and solar energy and, in the long term, as established providers of “flexibility” services in a future energy system where electricity and gas will be more closely integrated.

With 1,200 terawatt hours (TVh) of existing capacity in Europe, the potential for gas storage is truly enormous. But the road to such a hybrid energy system is paved with uncertainty. Meanwhile, the immediate challenges are becoming more urgent.

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“The situation has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Gas is now much cheaper than a decade ago and this has significantly weakened the commercial value of storage,” says Ilaria Conti, Head of the Gas Program at the Florence School of Regulation.

“Nowadays, with the drop in gas prices, that value has gone down, and the warehouses have even become a financial burden in some cases, forcing some companies to close unprofitable sites,” she said in an interview.

As such, the drop in gas prices is good news. It shows that the EU’s efforts to liberalize the gas market have actually borne fruit, bringing cheaper gas to consumers. Network connections have also been significantly improved, meaning gas can now flow more quickly where it is needed, making the system more resilient than in the past.

Industry analysts widely recognize the liberalization of European gas markets as a great success. But EU politicians are reluctant to celebrate this because liberalization by itself has failed to achieve another key goal – the diversification of supply. Ironically, Europe is now more dependent on Russian gas than ever.

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From up to 10 or 12 euros a decade ago, the difference between summer and winter prices at the TTF gas hub in the Netherlands has now fallen to 2 euros on average. Meanwhile, the price of gas storage has remained unchanged, hovering around 5 or 6 euros per megawatt hour (MWh).

That means there is now less incentive to replenish storage during the summer when prices are low, Conti said. According to industry data, gas storage capacity has fallen by 4% over the past two years as more sites were forced to close due to falling prices, Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), a trade association, said.

This has direct implications for energy security. “The risk of reduced demand comes from a reduction in gas storage of just 10%” in the cold winter, GIE said in a statement earlier this year.

Such risks to security of supply were illustrated in February last year when Britain and Ireland were hit by a cold wave dubbed the “Beast from the East”, which brought polar air from Siberia to Europe. The timing was particularly bad. A year earlier, British Gas owner Centrica announced the closure of the country’s largest gas storage facility, citing economic and safety reasons.

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When the cold snap hit Britain, demand for gas rose to a multi-decade high and energy operators had to resort to importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar and – for the first time – the US. Coal-fired power plants in Great Britain, which almost completely disappeared during the cold snap to reduce the need to burn gas for electricity, were also called to help.

For Conti, the “Beast from the East” was a perfect illustration of the “insurance value” that gas storage brings to the energy system. “Europe could not get through the cold period without gas storage,” she says.

“This is the paradox for gas storage: prices go up when there is a need to use storage.” But there is no incentive to refill them when prices are low.”

Few European countries are likely to have the same problems as the UK. Gas storage is still seen as a strategic asset, especially in places like Poland and Hungary, which are highly suspicious of over-reliance on Russian imports.

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However, the immediate future looks uncertain as the market ignores the “insurance value” of gas storage. “It is important that the market recognizes this insurance value and compensates for it,” Conti insists. National regulators could help achieve this, she says, but they also “need political guidance at EU level to ensure the consistency of decisions taken from a long-term perspective”.

In November, the European Commission published a long-term strategy for energy and climate change, stating that Europe should reduce global warming emissions to zero by 2050.

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