EIA outlines Asia's huge need for natural gas in years ahead

By Staff | October 29, 2019

By 2050, higher levels of consumer activity and a greater need for electricity generation from non-coal sources, will push China’s use of natural gas to levels that are roughly triple that of those recorded in 2019. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China’s power generation sector will grow to 7.3 quadrillion Btus in 2050. “Energy-intensive urban areas such as the Bejing-Tianjin-Hebei metropolitan area and northeast China will favor natural gas-fired units and other sources of electricity that result in less air pollution compared with coal-fired units,” EIA said. 

In addition to the power generation sector’s need for natural gas, China’s transportation sector will also require more natural gas for truck and rail frieight transport. By 2050, EIA expects the use of natural gas in the transportation sector of China to grow from 1 quadrillion Btu (today) to 6 quadrillion Btu in 2050. 

China isn’t the only country the EIA believes will need more gas than it can supply to itself. India’s manufacturing sector will push natural gas growth upward and above China by 2040. The countries of Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam will see an increase of natural gas use by 30 percent between now and 2050 thanks to manufacturing. 

“Although EIA expects non-OECD Asia natural gas production to more than double by 2050, the region’s natural gas consumption will grow faster. As a result, more natural gas imports will be required to satisfy demand,” EIA said. 

As of 2018, China was importing almost half (45 percent) of all natural gas through pipelines or liquified natural gas. The country currently produces roughly 15.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. Last year, the government announced a goal of producing 19.4 bcf/d. An incentive program was also established for the production of gas from tight shale formations and coalbed methane sources. The program was recently extended out to 2023. In addition to the changes in the subsidy program, the government allowed foreign companies to operate independently in the country’s oil and natural gas upstream sector. 

China has been developing its gas assets since the 1970s targeting the Sichuan Basin. In 2010, the country’s oil development division began a new drilling program that has helped produce more gas through vertical wells.