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U.S. to Be Exporter of Natural Gas by 2020

November 13, 2012

In its 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO), released on Monday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) highlighted some major changes to the global energy dynamic in the future. Forward-looking expectations have North American being largely responsible for a profound change to the energy roles of countries around the world. The United States specifically shows large growth in the production of oil and natural gas and has the potential to make an enormous shift in energy efficiency as well. By 2035, energy savings can grow to nearly a fifth of the global energy demand in 2010, the WEO said Monday. In the main projected scenario the WEO outlined, entitled the “New Policies Scenario”, the United States would be a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and would become nearly self-sufficient in net energy by 2035. Following the U.S., under this scenario North America would become a new oil exporter, which would drastically alter the global oil make-up. North America would no longer rely on the Middle East as much as it does now, and 90 percent of oil exports from the Middle East would be drawn to Asia by 2035. There is also major shift toward gas and renewables.

Natural gas demand in this scenario increases by 50 percent to 5 trillion cubic meters by 2035. Coal demand also rises by 21 percent, mostly confined to China and India. The battle between natural gas and coal largely depends on how strong restrictions are to lower emissions and how the price of coal relative to natural gas changes. The WEO has renewables becoming the second largest source of power generation in the world by 2015 and closing in on coal as the primary source by 2035. This trend for renewables is very much dependent on continuing subsidies in place. In 2011, subsidies were $88 billion, but need to increase dramatically to $4.8 trillion by 2035. Fortunately, half of this figure is already committed to present projects or projects in the future to meet 2020 targets.