Based on case studies of four countries (UAE, Russia, Argentina and Pakistan), this new report by CEDIGAZ analyses the influence of subsidies on gas supply and demand dynamics.
Gas price subsidies have a significant effect on the gas consumption. Simply put they embody the inexorable link between the price of a good and its demand. By artificially lowering the price of gas, it can become more competitive as a fuel, potentially even crowding out other fuels or technologies, as well as encouraging excessive consumption that would not have occurred in the absence of subsidies. The extent to which either of these situations are the case is dependent on the subsidies of a given country with two particular factors; price/level of discount and how much of the population it is available to. The cheaper the gas the more widespread and heavy its use (or the use of a byproduct of gas such as electricity, heat or water) will be. Additionally if subsidies are extended to larger parts of the population then not only does that increase the amount of users whose consumption may be wasteful but it also extends cheaper gas to richer households who are typically higher consumption users and therefore capable of wasting more. It therefore follows that any countries wishing to reduce or cut their subsidies will likely see their gas demand fall.
After a period of extensive growth in the 2000s, the Russian gas industry is now facing numerous challenges. Mounting competition by independent producers and the development of new production by Gazprom, combined with stagnating domestic demand and weakening export markets, have created a situation of overproduction, made worse by western sanctions and low oil and gas prices. Expansion to the East thanks to the recent China deal is not expected to provide much relief before 2024. The coming decade will be critical for the industry and its outcome will largely depend on the government’s pricing and institutional policies but the role of the state should remain essential.
The New CEDIGAZ report “Russian Gas Market: Entering New Era” by Tatiana Mitrova (Russian Academy of Sciences) and Gergely Molnar analyses the ongoing changes in the Russian industry and the challenges to be met.
Japan’s energy policy is undergoing fundamental changes. The accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant questions the future contribution of nuclear power in the national energy mix. Growing imports of fossil fuels to replace the lost nuclear capacity inflated energy prices and raise economic and energy security challenges. At the same time, the US shale gas and oil revolution is reshaping the global energy scene. Japan expects to take advantage of the trend to eliminate the “Asian premium” on natural gas prices and expand cheaper natural gas consumption. These developments have driven the Government of Japan to review its energy policy from scratch and adopt a new Strategic Energy Plan. This new policy has far reaching implications for gas and coal development in Japan but also for the international markets as Japan is the world’s largest LNG importer and the second largest coal importer.