Chinese demand for gas will nearly double by 2019, according to the International Energy Agency's (IEA) 2014 Medium-Term Gas Market Report released today.

The International Energy Agency is an independent organization conducting global energy data collection and research, and this latest report provides one of the most comprehensive international outlooks on natural gas available. According to the IEA, global demand is expected to increase at an annual rate of around 2.2% for the next half-decade, a dip from last year's projection of a 2.4% rate.

"We are entering the age of much more efficient natural gas markets, with additional benefits for energy security," said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven in a presentation of the findings. "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 [liquefied natural gas] in Australia and North America."

LNG will play a key role in satisfying the world's new gas demand as private-sector operators in Australia, Canada, and the United States take the lead in the expanding LNG trade, which is expected to grow by 40% by 2019, according to the agency. Australia is expected to account for half of all new LNG exports, with North America snagging about 8% of the global LNG trade by 2019.

The IEA reports that gas is "emerging as a major part of the solution" to China's plans to reduce pollution. "While China will remain a significant importer, half of its new gas demand will be met by domestic resources, most of them unconventional," according to the IEA, which estimates  Chinese production is set to grow by 65% between 2013 and 2019.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says China’s natural gas demand in 2012 reached 5,180 billion cubic feet, around one-fifth of the United States’ consumption for the same period.

While China demand is expected to jump, a combination of low energy demand growth and a renewables push will keep Europe natural gas consumption below its 2010 peak level, the report estimates. The Middle East will also face issues, but on the production side, as government-regulated prices keep gas too cheap to incentivize upstream investment and "encourage wasteful consumption," the report said. Go to this web page to find links to report summaries. Here is the executive summary (in PDF).

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