Gas International Trade

The gas market is increasingly globalized and in continuous transition, following a long period of adjustment and a decade full of technological innovations that have impacted the entire supply chain, from extraction to transport to distribution. By analysing the consumption data in situ, the dynamism of the market highlights, for example, that consumption went from 84% in the 1990s to 70% today, while the remaining 30% is traded thanks to the creation of new capacities, the development of the gas pipeline network and the substantial increase in the sale of LNG.
For decades, the chief players were the United States and Russia, but recent global events have modified their role and introduced new key figures. The coronavirus pandemic, economic recession, and geopolitical tensions have triggered an energy crisis comparable to that of the 1970s, profoundly and rapidly altering global dynamics. Until 2021, Russia maintained its role as top exporter without rival, while the United States, with the expansion in domestic production thanks to the extraction of shale gas, downsized its role as an importer and climbed the ranks of exporters to second position, followed by Qatar, Norway and Australia.
The geopolitical and energy crisis resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict that began in February 2022 has caused a series of market adjustments. The EU’s commitment to gradually phase out pipeline gas imports from Russia – historically its largest supplier – has global repercussions, as growing demand for LNG in Europe attracts deliveries initially destined for other regions.
China and, to a lesser extent, India, along with Southeast Asia’s emerging markets, are instead expected to become future protagonists. The environmental problems tied to the high consumption of coal mean that a transition towards greater exploitation of natural gas is a possible solution for these countries, and this is currently taking place through new trade deals and the development of plants and infrastructures tied to the sale of LNG.

  • BP, Statistical Review of World Energy (various editions)
  • EIA (US Energy Information Administration), International Energy Statistics [Last accessed 11 May 2023]
Pipeline vs. LNG Trade (Billion cubic metres)