What factors will have the greatest impact on future natural gas demand?
2003-6-28wgc2003 in Tokyo
  Kicking off a packed Working Committee Session on "What factors will have the greatest impact on 
future natural gas demand?," Chair Terence Thorn pointed out that what was being presented was "a
picture of the opportunity gas has to be a dominant fuel, not a prediction," put together with data
gathered by those actively involved in the industry, whose see first-hand the opportunities and
obstacles it faces.
  The findings of the reports on World Gas Demand and World Gas Supply for the period 2000-2030,
summarized by Flavia Di Cino of Argentina and Vladimir Outrata of the Czech Republic, respectively,
suggested that the opportunities for natural gas look good, with demand expected to grow significantly
even using a low base model projection, and supply well able to meet demand. Speaking for the supply
side, Outrata said “There is a positive outlook for the industry."
  Stating that he was "skeptical about the determined optimism of the world gas industry on future
demand," Jonathan Stern of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, said he found it very hard to look
ahead five years, yet alone 30, without some price assumptions.
  His concern was that prices paid for gas were too low in some countries, and too high in others. In
particular, over the next 30 years, countries where big growth in demand is expected are those with low
GDP per capita, with little capacity to pay, and where exploration costs are high. 
  R.S. Franklin of ExxonMobil, in analyzing the factors behind the growth of natural gas, said that it
was more environmentally friendly than other fossil fuels. There had been major breakthroughs in gas-
related technology and the lead t/me on new gas plants -- from approval to commercial operation in three
years, he said.
  Looking at the obstacles producers will face in developing the world’s next generation of supply basins,
Peter Mellbye of Statoil Natural Gas said the regulatory element brings in an additional layer of uncert-
ainty. The evolution of North Sea gas fields has been the story of technology overcoming the cost barriers,
but new sources of supply, while plentiful, are more and more distantly located from the market.
  Tadahiko Ohashi, chief executive economist of Tokyo Gas, was one of the panelists who agreed with the
studies’ projections for gas growth, saying, "I am very supportive of the figures issues by the committee."
  The final panelist, Wilfried Czernie of Ruhrgas in Germany, noting that environmental aspects had become
more important since the last conference, said that Europe’s gas industry was able to offer adequate security
of energy supply and can contribute more to environmental protection. "We just have to make sure that all
involved cooperate," he said.