The International Energy Agency recently forecast that natural gas consumption as a chemical feedstock would grow at an average annual rate of 3.4 per cent until 2025, driven mainly by new fertiliser and methanol projects.
The IEA said fertiliser was the fastest-growing sector using natural gas feedstocks in the forecast period, growing at an annual rate of 3.5 per cent to more than 100bn cubic metres by 2025. India has seen the biggest growth, with urea production rising to 30.1 million tonnes a year by 2025, thanks to government subsidies to the fertiliser industry and an attempt to reduce its dependence on imported urea. Fertilizer growth in Pakistan and Bangladesh will also support this trend.
The IEA said the US was the leading producer of methanol from natural gas. "As US gas production has grown rapidly, its low price has attracted many developers. Globally, methanol consumption accounts for more than 30% of the increase in natural gas raw material demand. According to the IEA, by 2025, Eurasia will account for 15 per cent of global gas consumption in petrochemicals and agrochemicals. About half of the industrial gas in Eurasia is used as a chemical feedstock and has also benefited from the relatively low price of natural gas in 2019 at less than $2 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), the IEA said.
Gas demand in the chemical sector, dominated by Russia, is also forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 3 per cent. Russia accounts for more than 60 per cent of the region's demand growth. The IEA notes that the natural gas chemicals project includes methanol, synthetic ammonia, ammonium nitrate, urea and other high-value chemicals. After 2021, most of the growth in natural gas for chemical feedstock will be in Asia, led by China and India. By 2025, Chinese industry will drive the growth of natural gas consumption by 60 BCM/year, mainly in energy-intensive heavy industries, especially the chemical industry. It is predicted that the global demand for natural gas in various industries will exceed 4.37 trillion cubic meters in 2025, with an average annual growth rate of 1.5% during this period.