The United States will surpass current market leaders Australia and Qatar to become the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in 2024, a high-ranking official at the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday.
The U.S. exports of LNG are expected to exceed 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2024, beating Qatar and Australia to the top spot, IEA’s Head of the Gas, Coal and Power Markets Division, Peter Fraser, said at a presentation sponsored by Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs Centre on Global Energy Policy.
While the U.S. will be the biggest LNG exporter within five years, China will become the top LNG importer, outpacing Japan, according to IEA’s Fraser.
Thanks to its massive coal-to-natural gas switch, China became the world’s second-biggest LNG importer in 2017, surpassing South Korea and second only to Japan. Demand for natural gas in China will continue to grow in the coming years.
According to the IEA, China is set to surpass Japan as well, with Beijing’s imports expected to surge to more than 100 bcm in 2024.
IEA’s Gas 2019 report from last month says that global gas demand over the next five years is expected to be driven by Asia Pacific, forecast to account for nearly 60 percent of the total consumption increase to 2024.
“China will be the main driver for gas demand growth, though slower than in the recent past as economic growth slows, but still accounting for about 40% of total gas demand increase to 2024,” the IEA said.
The Paris-based agency expects the LNG market to “undergo profound changes over the next five years.”
China and India are set to emerge as major buyers of LNG, alongside Europe which is expected to increase imports, the agency says.
“On the supply side, the emergence of a trio of leading exporters results in Australia overpassing Qatar in 2022, and being overpassed by the United States by 2024,” the IEA noted.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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