Abstract.

It is now largely accepted that natural gas will play a major and growing role in supplying future world primary energy needs. This energy source is gradually taking up a better position worldwide in an increasing number of consuming countries. Indeed, its intrinsic qualities combined with an abundance of resources give it priority in energy demand scenarios, especially in the power generation sector.

The unequal distribution of gas resources on the earth and the gradual remoteness of the most recent discoveries will lead obviously to a tremendous increase in the international gas trade. The setting up of an adequate production and transportation infrastructure will bring huge investments to make gas available to most consuming markets and also the less endowed with gas resources.

Therefore, it will be necessary not only to finance those projects, but also to develop these reserves at the least expensive cost in order to preserve gas competitiveness with other energy sources. Technological progress, and also new industrial approaches have to be strengthened and encouraged. Furthermore, a closer cooperation between all partners will open greater prospects for this energy promised to a bright future.

1. INTRODUCTION

During the last 15 yr, world energy demand grew by 21% and, in the same period, gas demand increased by 46%. Indeed, natural gas was the fastest growing fossil fuel. By 2010, world energy demand is projected to increase again rapidly by 30-40%, and the fossil fuels share is expected to remain relatively stable at 90%. For both technological and environmental factors, a further significant increase in the use of gas is expected in the future. However, competition with oil and coal for both prices and funds will be the challenge that the gas industry will have to face. In the past, this industry has shown its ability to adapt to new constraints. It must follow this successful way in the future. 2. WORLD NATURAL GAS DEMAND TRENDS After more than two decades of steady and sustained growth, worldwide natural gas demand shows bright prospects for further expansion. Natural gas share in world energy balances is expected to increase up to 25% by 2010, compared with 23% in 1995. Indeed, environmental issues and a growing awareness of ecological problems favour the gas option. Natural gas is seen as a clean fuel, with powerful and appreciated assets when compared with other fossil fuels. See Fig. 1.

In addition, the increase in the use of gas is closely linked to the performances of gas technologies, mainly in the power generation sector where the use of gas in combined cycle power plants and in cogeneration is developing rapidly. Better efficiency, lower production costs and plant investments as well as greater flexibility of use are some of the advantages that give gas a determinant position when compared to its competing energy sou

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