Unconventional gas accounts for nearly half of the increase in global gas production to 2035, with most of the increase coming from China, the United States and Australia
Natural gas is the only fossil fuel for which global demand grows in all scenarios, showing that it fares well under different policy conditions; but the outlook varies by region. Demand growth in China, India and the Middle East is strong: active policy support and regulatory reforms push China’s consumption up from around 130 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2011 to 545 bcm in 2035. In the United States, low prices and abundant supply see gas overtake oil around 2030 to become the largest fuel in the energy mix. Europe takes almost a decade to get back to 2010 levels of gas demand: the growth in Japan is similarly limited by higher gas prices and a policy emphasis on renewables and energy efficiency. Unconventional gas accounts for nearly half of the increase in global gas production to 2035, with most of the increase coming from China, the United States and Australia. But the unconventional gas business is still in its formative years, with uncertainty in many countries 8 about the extent and quality of the resource base. As analysed in a World Energy Outlook Special Report released in May 2012, there are also concerns about the environmental impact of producing unconventional gas that, if not properly addressed, could halt the unconventional gas revolution in its tracks. Public confidence can be underpinned by robust regulatory frameworks and exemplary industry performance. By bolstering and diversifying 10 sources of supply, tempering demand for imports (as in China) and fostering the emergence of new exporting countries (as in the United States), unconventional gas can accelerate movement towards more diversified trade flows, putting pressure on conventional gas suppliers and on traditional oil-linked pricing mechanisms for gas.