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Natural Gas as a Source of Methane Emissions Worldwide

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With the United States of America currently leading the production of natural gas hydrocarbons, followed by Russia, Iran, Qatar, Canada, China, The European Union, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan, natural gas along with the oil/petroleum industry account for 20% of total methane emissions worldwide. In its World Oil Outlook 2040, OPEC estimates that the largest upcoming energy demand will come from natural gas, with an average annual growth of 0.4 % from 2015 to 2040. (Global Methane Initiative 2010; Central Intelligence Agency 2017; U.S. Energy Information Administration 2017; OPEC 2017).

Following table chart illustrates OPEC´s forecast for the world primary energy demand by fuel type from 2015 to 2040. According to OPEC´s estimations, the demand for gas will increase by a rate of 1.8% p.a. during this time period, with the majority of demand coming from non-OECD countries and the most rapid economic growth in the developing world. OPEC projects the global economy in 2040 being 226% in comparison to 2016, with 3/4 of growth coming from developing countries. China and India are forecast to account for almost 40% of the global GDP in 2040. (OPEC 2017. World Oil Outlook 2040).

 

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The OPEC acknowledges the relation between population growth and energy demand, however, considering a number of variables for instance in consumer trends. It also states how energy markets are affected by government policies and recognizes the need to monitor these on a regular basis, taking into consideration for instance the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, with energy efficiency and clean energy now trending development. The OPEC is closely monitoring worldwide energy market and policy developments, mentioning the USA, the European Union, China, and India at the forefront.

OPEC estimates that total world primary energy demand by fuel type from 2015 to 2040 will see an increase of 3.6% for gas, 1,5% for nuclear energy, 0.3% for hydro energy, and 4% for other renewables, while the demand for oil would decrease by 4.2%, coal demand decreasing by 5.1%, and biomass demand decreasing by 0.1% during the time frame. The OPEC identifies energy efficiency as a critical uncertainty for the energy market with policies concentrating on reducing emissions through a number of measures related to financial and fiscal instruments. (OPEC 2017. World Oil Outlook 2040).

The U.S. Energy Information Administration presents natural gas as a proportionately clean burning fossil fuel, although exploration, drilling and production have direct impacts on the environment, in addition to the fact that natural gas consists mainly of methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Leaks from natural gas-related activities such as pipelines are causing toxic anthropogenic methane emissions. (eia 2017). Despite of the many environmental and health risks related to fossil fuels such as natural gas, the global energy market will continue to depend on these. The OPEC projects that oil and gas combined will supply for more than 50% of global energy needs between 2015-2040. Gas alone is estimated to have a share of 29% in OECD, 20.8% in developing countries, and 45.4% in Eurasia in 2040. In China, gas is forecast to account for 10.6% of energy demand in 2040, while coal is expected to drop down to 48.6% from 64.3% in 2015. (OPEC 2017).

The OPEC estimates that the highest growth in gas demand in the OECD region will be in OECD America, recognizing key influences related to the overall demand of natural gas and its dependency on multiple critical factors including gas supplies, competition,  regulations, and pricing.

For instance in Finland, the national Energy Authority reports that “The Finnish natural gas market has been under sector-specific regulatory supervision since the assertion of the Natural Gas Market Act in August 2000”. The natural gas market in Finland has currently no competition, with 100% of the natural gas is being imported through one pipeline from Russia and traded on the Finnish market by one single company. In Finland, the demand for natural gas has been in decline for several reasons, with natural gas accounting for some eight (8%) of total generation fuel mix in 2014, with the baseline for energy demand being market-based. (energy authority Ref: 1842/601/2015/; Finnish Energy 2017).

 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys – for climate-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank & to receive my newsletter delivered personally to you, subscribe to Leading With Passion

 

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