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Gas to pass coal in 15 years, equal oil says IEA

London, June 6, 2011

The prospect of new unconventional gas resources across the globe will push world gas demand past coal just after 2025 and is to come close to oil around 2035, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday.

'The IEA expects global gas demand to overtake coal just after 2025, and come close to oil around 2035,' the agency said in a report published in London on Monday.

The IEA also said that the steep increase expected in gas demand would end the current gas glut by 2015, by when demand would begin to outstrip supply.

The IEA expects the boom in gas demand to be a result of a sharp increase in unconventional gas production mainly in China, Australia and North America, and because of a decline in global nuclear power generation as a result of the major accident at Japan's Fukushima reactors earlier this year.

According to the energy agency, Fukushima will significantly curb the rise in nuclear power generation, not just in Europe but globally, with gas stepping in to fill the gap.

The report said around 40 per cent of the increase in global gas production between now and 2035 will come from unconventional gas exploration, such as fracking shale gas or exploiting coalbed methane gas, also known as coal seam gas.

The IEA also said it expects Australia to become one of the world's top exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2020, catching up with current leader Qatar.

According to the agency, the increase in unconventional gas exploration is good news in terms of securing global energy supply, as production will be widely distributed across North and South America, China, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Climate targets difficult to meet

But the IEA said that while gas will increasingly replace highly pollutive coal and oil power generation, its steep rise will also come at the cost of low carbon technologies such as nuclear, and even renewable power generation.

It said this will not make it easier for the world to achieve its target of preventing average global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius.

The revised figure of global CO2 equivalent emissions in 2035 as a result of the increased gas demand is a mere 0.5 per cent reduction, or 160 million tonnes, compared with the IEA's estimates last year, the agency said.

The IEA urged governments to introduce effective safety regulation regarding unconventional gas production, and for companies to come up with 'golden standards of practice' in which chemicals used in shale gas fracking are declared and which limit the amount of fresh water used. – Reuters




Tags: Oil | IEA | London | coal | Gas resources |

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