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26/02/2021 – Energy / Gas / Outlook / Forecast / Report / 2050 / Industry / Exporting / GECF / Global

GECF unveils fifth edition of Global Gas Outlook 2050
GECF unveils fifth edition of Global Gas Outlook 2050

The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), the global platform of the leading gas producing nations, today unveiled the 5th edition of its annual GECF Global Gas Outlook 2050 (Outlook) at an online event attended by energy ministers and senior representatives from the Forum’s Member Countries, alongside a bevy of dignitaries and gas industry stakeholders. 

The GECF’s Outlook is the most extensive forecast of the global gas industry and presents multiple forward-thinking scenarios, from Covid-19 recovery to the hydrogen economy, up to 2050 – the year whereby gas is expected to have firmly become the primary fossil fuel of the 21st century. The Outlook’s detailed quantitative assessments account for national energy strategies, environmental and climate policies, and investments and business decisions.


The forecast remains the flagship publication of the association of 19 member countries, which together represent 70 per cent of the world’s proven gas reserves, 44 per cent of its marketed production, 52 per cent of pipeline, and 51 per cent of LNG exports in the world.

“The Global Gas Outlook, being launched today, presents a quality assessment of how macroeconomic conditions, energy policies, prices and investment decision have their influence on the development of natural gas markets (worldwide),” noted HE Viktor Zubkov – Special Representative of the Russian President for Co-operation with the GECF and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom – in his address to the gathering via a statement. “At the same time, this new edition closely examines the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on global energy markets and focus on the strengthening role of natural gas in the energy transition.”

“Rigorous forecasting” for the natural gas market

Commending the GECF for developing a rigorous forecasting and analytical potential in-house, HE Alexander Novak, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, said that “the weight and reputation of the GECF in the gas industry is steadily growing”, and that his country expected the organisation would continue to play “a key role in shaping further vectors for the development of the gas industry, establishing mechanisms to ensure the stable and safe functioning of the gas market”.

HE Novak continued: “The development of the global gas market largely depends on the BRICS countries, whose energy balance will witness natural gas’ growth by almost 50 per cent by 2040. In addition, the potential for the LNG market is growing. Already, Russia is fourth among the world's largest producers. We intend to increase production from the current 29 million tons to 120-140mt of LNG per year and take up to 15-20 per cent of the market by 2035,” he added.

Natural gas to rise to 28% of energy mix by 2050

In his overview of the latest findings of the Outlook 2050, the GECF Secretary General HE Yury Sentyurin highlighted the vital role natural gas will play in the global energy mix by raising its share from 23 per cent currently to 28 per cent by 2050, thanks to its remarkable features of abundance, flexibility, affordability, and environmental efficiency. 

“The complexity of factors and the multiplicity of stakeholders within the energy sector results in myriad shifting strategies that are shaping the new architecture of the future,” HE Sentyurin advised. “Nevertheless, the mid- and long-term fundamental factors that favour natural gas remain unchanged. This plentiful, adaptable and, crucially, clean source of energy will expand across Asia Pacific, North American and Middle Eastern markets.”

In his statement, HE Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC’s Secretary General said: “The publication of the Global Gas Outlook today and OPEC’s contribution to it, are just another sign of the ever-expanding co-operation and dialogue between our two organisations. The potential of this dialogue is unlimited, and even that much more essential now, as, together, we unite with all of our industry stakeholders to accelerate the recovery from the ravages brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Mitigating climate change; meeting shared goals faster

Joining from Riyadh, where the International Energy Forum (IEF) is headquartered, Secretary General HE Joseph McMonigle said: "As the only natural gas focused outlook by the major energy organisations, the GECF’s Global Gas Outlook makes a valuable contribution to global understanding of future energy trends.”

As a cleaner alternative to other fossil fuels, natural gas offers the world a real chance to mitigate climate change and meet shared goals faster together, he continued. “The IEF is committed to helping advance the role of readily available gas resources, new infrastructure solutions, and innovative technologies to facilitate smart stable and secure energy transitions in partnership with the GECF and other organisations.”

The high-ranking officials praised the necessary competencies achieved by the Forum, which, according to them, are increasingly sought-after at some of the world’s most authoritative platforms such as the United Nations, G20, ASEAN, and BRICS, among others.

An overview of the Outlook

The GECF Global Gas Outlook 2050 is divided in six main sections, with Chapters I and II examining the global economic and energy price prospects and energy policy developments, respectively, in light of changing demographics, carbon price projections, post-Covid-19 recovery plans, and policy drivers. Chapter III explores the energy and gas demand with an in-depth look at the global and regional trends. Chapter IV provides a vantage point on natural gas production, the changing profile of gas production sources, as well as the steps being taken by the GECF members to remain the leading producers in the world. Chapter V shines the light on the important subject of gas trade and investment, whilst Chapter VI chalks out the role of natural gas in energy-related CO2 emissions with alternative scenarios on carbon mitigation.  

Several of these topics were elaborated further at the event during a panel discussion, with the participation of a group of experts from the GECF, who served as the Outlook’s co-authors. The experts highlighted the value of the Global Gas Model (GGM) – a unique highly granular tool developed in-house at the GECF Secretariat, which has been serving for modelling the GECF Global Gas Outlook. They mentioned that the GGM boasts the ability to focus on all segments of the gas value-chain such as production, pipelines, LNG, transportation, regasification, contracts, in an exclusive manner. 

The GGM is characterised by its high granularity in covering: 140+ country-level forecasts, with over 85 regional and economic aggregations; Complete energy balance estimates (covering 34 sectors and 35 fuels p.a., from 1990–2050); 4,157 gas supply entities representing gas supply potential at a global scale, comprising existing operational production facilities, associated gas projects linked to oil production facilities, sanctioned projects that are under development, new projects based on existing reserves, yet-to-find entities based on USGS resource base, and unconventionals (existing, new, and yet-to-find) – global shale gas, tight gas and coal bed methane. Meanwhile, the infrastructure database contains: 600 liquefaction plants, 803 regasification plants, and more than 4,400 gas pipeline and shipping routes. 

Select findings from the GECF’s latest Global Gas Outlook 2050 are as follows:

Population growth and economic prospects

• Africa will lead the way in population growth, accounting for half of the total increase in 2050, with Asia following in second place. India will become the world’s most populous country by 2030.

• Global real GDP is forecast to be seven per cent lower in 2050 than pre-Covid-19 projections.

• China has recovered much faster than any other country from Covid-19.

• The US is experiencing an unprecedented decline in its GDP, at 4.3 per cent, due to the uncontrolled spread of the virus.

Energy price projections

• Over the longer term, the expectation is that an average level for oil prices of around US$60/bbl should be achievable, as oversupply is driven out of the market by lower prices and demand starts to recover.

• In the gas market, a combination of excess LNG supply, high storage utilisation in Europe, a warm winter and the effects of Covid-19 caused a collapse in prices across the globe in 2020.

• As for gas prices, there is a trend towards increasing regional natural gas market integration and price convergence, although at a generally lower level than 2019 projections.

• Volatility in gas prices will continue due to the investment cycles for LNG, but increasing globalisation of trade will help to keep inter-regional prices competitive.

• The challenge of decarbonisation (and carbon taxes) will have an important impact in Europe, which will be the balancing market for LNG.

• In Asia, demand growth will likely see the continuance of the ‘Asian premium’.

Energy policy developments and emissions trends  

• Natural gas continues to receive positive policy support in several countries as an alternative to polluting and carbon-intensive fuels, and as a flexible option complementing intermittent renewables.

• However, this policy support is being challenged, especially by governments setting more ambitious renewables targets and decisions by several lenders, including the World Bank, to discontinue financing gas projects.

• The post-Covid-19 stimulus measures are still largely supportive of hydrocarbons.

• The reliance on more carbon-intensive fuels, particularly coal, contributes to an anticipated gap between the emissions forecasts and the Paris Agreement targets. Further penetration of natural gas enables the capture of more carbon mitigation potential.

Energy and natural gas demand trends

• Global primary energy demand grows by 24 per cent over the Outlook period, returning to its 2019 levels by late-2023, but by 2050 it remains 2.5 per cent lower than the GECF’s pre-pandemic forecast.

• The energy transition is underway, and natural gas together with renewables will gain in importance and will be the major contributors to incremental growth in global energy demand, together accounting for more than 90 per cent of the additional 3,520Mtoe through to 2050.

• Natural gas and renewables will make up 60 per cent of the electricity supply, changing the global power generation mix by 2050.

• Natural gas will overtake coal in 2025 and become the largest global primary energy source by 2047, with oil plateauing around 2040 and then beginning its irreversible decline.

• Renewables’ share in the global energy mix rises from two per cent in 2019 to 10 per cent in 2050.

• Natural gas demand will rise by 50 per cent, reaching 5,920bcm in 2050, and will expand specifically across the Asia Pacific, North America and Middle Eastern markets, which together will provide more than 75 per cent of additional gas volumes through to 2050.

• The Asia Pacific region, given its enormous potential, will become the largest gas consumer, doubling its consumption to 1,660bcm by 2050

Natural gas supply

• Global natural gas production is forecast to grow by around 1,900bcm to reach more than 5,900bcm by 2050

• In Asia-Pacific, only China, Australia and India are expected to significantly expand production. Total Asia-Pacific production growth to 2050 is forecast to be 224bcm.

• In North America, all three countries (the US, Canada and Mexico) are expected to increase their production. Total production is expected to grow by 560bcm to reach 1,670bcm by 2050.

• Gas production in Eurasia is expected to increase by almost 40 per cent, amounting to just under 1,300bcm by 2050.

• Middle East gas production is expected to rise to 1,150bcm by 2050.

• Europe’s downward trend is expected to continue with production falling from over 200bcm in 2019 to around 70bcm in 2050.

• Africa will grow from 250bcm (6.4 per cent of global production) in 2019 to around 600bcm (just over 10 per cent of global supply) by 2050.

• Natural gas production in Latin America is expected to increase by over 110bcm to reach 280bcm by 2050.

Gas trade and investment 

• The share of traded LNG will increase to approximately 48 per cent of all traded gas in 2030 and 56 per cent in 2050, respectively.

• LNG regasification from existing, under construction, potential, proposed, stalled and speculative projects is expected to be around 1,398mtpa.

• It is projected that over the Outlook period, 1,990bcm out of around 5,920bcm global natural gas demand will be imported, including 1,105bcm (or more than half) from the GECF Member Countries.

• Total gas investment (including upstream and midstream activities) between 2020 and 2050 will reach a cumulative US$10 trillion.

Energy-related CO2 emissions

• The impact of Covid-19 in 2020 is estimated to have led to around a seven-per-cent reduction in global energy-related CO2 emissions.

• In the GECF Global Gas Outlook 2050’s reference case scenario (RCS), emissions grow moderately until 2030 before stabilising and plateauing at around 33.7 GtCO2 over the 2030-2050 period. 

• Natural gas will contribute the least to emissions by 2050 (32 per cent), despite its higher role in the hydrocarbons mix (39 per cent), while coal will still account for a high share (33 per cent).

• The GECF Global Gas Outlook 2050’s carbon mitigation scenario (CMS) outlines the potential to mitigate emissions by 6.8GtCO2 in 2050 with an increasing penetration of gas and renewables.

• These two fuels are set to increase their shares to 14 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively, by 2050 – from 10 per cent and 28 per cent in the RCS.

A synopsis version of the GECF Global Gas Outlook 2050 can be accessed here

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