Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Working Paper #8
Techno-economic energy models consistently project world gas demand to rise sharply in the coming decades. The most recent World Energy Outlook envisions that global gas consumption will double by 2030 and other major energy scenarios anticipate similar increases in gas demand. In the areas of highest expected demand-North America, Europe, China, and South and East Asia-the projected consumption of gas is expected to far outstrip indigenous supplies. These regions could import gas from regions where there is large surplus, but those are geographically distant. Indeed, surplus gas supplies-that is, reserves in excess of expected demand growth-are concentrated in a wide band stretching from the Middle East north to Siberia. Nearly half of the world's proven gas reserves are located in two countries-Russia and Iran-and three quarters of projected gas resources are located in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Russia. Delivering gas from these sources to the future demand centers will require a major expansion of inter-regional natural gas pipelines and LNG trains, in addition to significant intra-regional, cross-border gas transport infrastructures. The joint Stanford-Rice University study on the "Geopolitics of Gas" looks forward to this hypothesized gas-intensive world and explores a series of tightly interrelated questions.