Natural gas has a crucial role to play in the current transition to a low carbon economy, raising investment challenges which have become even more prominent in the current period of economic crisis and low prices.

CEDIGAZ, the International Information Center on Natural Gas, has just released its « Medium and Long Term Natural Gas and LNG Outlooks 2020 ». Cedigaz Scenario assumes the effective realisation of official energy plans and climate policy targets. It is built upon the implementation of strong energy efficiency programmes and the expansion of low carbon technologies. It highlights that natural gas will play a growing role in the world energy mix to meet both the growing energy demand and climate policy targets. The future expansion of natural gas in the energy mix is driven by the competitiveness and abundance of resources in gas-rich countries (North America, Russia, Middle East… ), which will expand LNG export capacities required to meet the growing gas demand, especially in emerging Asian markets. Despite a post-pandemic recovery assumed post-2021, the Covid-19 pandemic has a meaningful impact on the economy, investments, energy prices and gas demand in the short and medium term. Therefore, the future expansion of gas in the next two decades is conditioned on the timely materialization of investments, especially in the upstream and LNG business, which represents a key challenge in a context of low oil and gas prices.

EUROPEAN PIPELINE GAS IMPORTS – First semester 2020

European[1] gas imports by pipeline were relatively stable in H1 2020 but down 19% year on year

Monthly pipeline gas flows to Europe were surprisingly quite stable in the first half of 2020, with a minimum estimated at 20.6 bcm in May against a maximum 23.1 bcm in March. However compared to last year, pipeline imports were down by 18% in the first quarter and 20% in the second quarter. Overall, European pipeline imports stood at 130 bcm in the first semester of 2020, an estimated 30 bcm (-19%) decline compared to the same period last year. Remarkably, daily flows remained below the minimum recorded in the 2016-2019 period on almost every day of the semester.

2019: natural gas demand growth slowed but remained strong

In 2019, slower economic growth, Chinese policy changes and a mild winter caused global gas demand growth to slow in a context of oversupply, resulting in a growing LNG surplus and much lower prices. The growth in natural gas demand has slowed down from 5% in 2018 to 2.3% in 2019, returning to the average annual growth rate observed since the start of the century. The main factor behind growth was the switching from coal and oil to natural gas in the power and industry sectors, which was prompted by the competitiveness of natural gas thanks to a growing abundant low-cost supply. This was notably the case in the United States, Europe and some Asian emerging countries. Thus, natural gas has remained the main beneficiary of the energy demand growth, to the detriment of coal in particular, causing its share in the energy mix to expand further.