Gas set for global growth ahead of 2050 says GECF

Image: Maksym Yemelyanov /

Gas is set to take up an even greater share of the global energy mix in the run-up to 2050, mainly propelled by a changing energy mix, population and economic growth, technical and economic challenges, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is according to the new report entitled Global Gas Outlook 2050 from The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).

Far from playing a receding part in the global transition to clean, sustainable energy such as renewables, gas is predicted to grow in the years preceding the 2050 target set by most countries, from 24% in 2021 to 27% by 2050, driven mainly by the power sector, according to the report.

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Key findings of the report include the following:

  • Global energy demand is expected to rise by 29% over the next three decades, driven by urban and economic growth in Africa and Asia, with the former accounting for 60% of expected global population growth, and rising rates of urbanisation. The Asia-Pacific region is said to be the source of 60% of global economic growth in terms of GDP over the forecast period.
  • The role of natural gas is expected to grow, buoyed by policy support in major consuming countries, but weighed by increasing pressure to reduce reliance on the resource by major first-world economies such as the USA and Japan, and increasing commitments to sustainability in both the private and public sectors.
  • The power generation sector will account for the lion’s share of new gas demand – accounting for 42% of the total increase, driven by the phasing out of coal-fired generation and the electrification of end-uses of electricity, followed by the transportation and blue hydrogen generation industries.
  • COVID 19, economic and technical challenges are safe-guarding gas: Whilst many regions have increased targets for both the adoption of the transition to renewable energy, the reduction of coal use, the impact of COVID19, as well related and unrelated economic and technical adoption challenges could hinder progress – bolstering the role of gas ahead of 2050.
  • Almost one-third (32%) of the increased demand will be met by supply from the Middle East, with the role of deepwater and unconventional resources slated for growth in coming years.
  • According to the synopsis, almost half of global hydrogen generation will be sourced from natural gas – with the majority (46%) of the remaining supply being made up of blue hydrogen, with total demand forecast to be in the region of 620 metric tonnes, with member countries predicted to export approximately 50% of total supply by 2050.

In his overview of the report, HE Eng. Mohamed Hamel, Secretary General of the GECF, noted “The GECF Global Gas Outlook 2050 underscores that investment in natural gas is critical for the stability of global energy systems. It projects that by 2050, total upstream and midstream investments will reach a hefty $ 8.7 trillion.”

“Environmental policies are a key driver of the projections contained in the Outlook. In this context, whilst upholding that natural gas is the cleanest of hydrocarbon fuels, the Outlook explores the state of technologies that will make it even cleaner.”

The report, published on 28 February, does not take the potential impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine into consideration. The invasion has seen far-reaching sanctions placed on Russia’s financial system by western countries and global oil and gas majors like bp and Shell announced their exit from partnerships with state-backed Russian oil and gas companies in recent days – factors which are already having major impacts on the global energy sector.

GECF is an intergovernmental organisation, made up of governmental representation of approximately 50% of global gas producing countries. The organisation includes Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela as member countries, with Azerbaijan, Iraq, Malaysia, Norway, Peru and the United Arab Emirates as observer members.

A synopsis version of the report can be found here.

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