Due to sustainable natural gas demand growth, the world gas sector has been developing fast during the past decades. In the 1980s, the average annual gas demand in Western Europe grew within 2.0–2.5%; starting from the 1990s, it rose by 3%, and by 2010 the demand will grow by 4%. In some developing countries, natural gas demand grows impressively: over 7–8%.
The share of gas in the world energy will grow from 23% in the late 20th century to 27% by 2020.
The proven world gas reserves are over 170.0 TCM. Production was over 2.4 TCM in 2000. In 2020, it will be 4.5 TCM, which makes it possible to meet the ever-growing gas demand.
Gas resources are distributed very unevenly over the Earth. The principal reserves belong to Russia and Middle East countries.
Non-uniform reserve distribution brings about the development of trans-regional and transcontinental systems of pipelines and the increasingly intense development of LNG business, although the gas pipeline network is insufficient, globally and regionally.
International gas trade shapes the world gas market. From 1970 to 1995, international gas sales grew 10-fold. The amount of gas sales will double by 2010 and triple by 2020. Besides traditional gas markets, new markets develop intensely, primarily in Asian-Pacific countries.
Convenient geographical location, immense reserves of natural gas, experience in construction of gas pipelines make it possible for Russia to supply gas both to traditional partners in Europe and to new buyers in the Asian-Pacific region.LNG sector development allows Russia to enter the markets in both Americas. All that determines the role of Russia at the global gas market. Its development depends on reliable gas supply to customers, gas market liberalization, and energy security of both producer and consumer countries.
As far as the world gas market is concerned, the first decades of this century will be a period of intense rise in both production and consumption of natural gas. The growth rates of these parameters will be greater for gas than for any other energy resource (its global consumption is expected to increase at 2.4% per annum as opposed to 1.6% for oil and 1.4% for coal). The greatest rates of gas consumption growth will be typical for China (5.5% per year), African countries (5%), South Asia (4.7%), and Latin America (4.3%). Consumption growth rates in the OECD countries will be less by far (Western Europe - 2.1%, the APR - 2.3%, and the USA and Canada - 1.7%).
The geographical pattern of natural gas consumption would change under the impact of its faster growth in the developing countries, first and foremost in China, India, and other Asian states. Within the period of 2000-2030, the world consumption share of the OECD countries would drop from 52 to 49%, and that of the transition economy countries - from 24 to 19%, while the share of the developing countries would rise from 21 to 32%.