China’s gas demand to almost double by 2019, IEA says

China will soon enter a “golden age” of natural gas similar to the one North America is currently experiencing, and China’s demand for natural gas will nearly double by 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

Around the world, natural gas demand will grow 2.2 percent per year through 2019, IEA said Tuesday in its annual five-year projection of the natural gas market. That compares with a 2.4 percent annual growth predicted last year.

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Liquefied natural gas (LNG) will play a key role in natural gas growth, and its trade will increase 40 percent in five years, the agency said.

“We are entering the age of much more efficient natural gas markets, with additional benefits for energy security,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement.

“While demand growth is driven by the Asia-Pacific region — and especially China — supply growth for the international gas trade is dominated by private investments in LNG in Australia and North America,” she said.

China is likely to demand 315 billion cubic meters of gas in 2019, a 90 percent increase from this year.

The large role of private companies in Australia and North America is a shift away from LNG supply being dominated by state-owned energy utilities, IEA said.

The agency warned that high LNG prices could reduce demand and make coal more attractive. Van der Hoeven said countries should prioritize investment in new natural gas production and liquefaction facilities to fight higher prices.