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‘Golden age of gas in full swing’: but shale boom will remain ‘US phenomenon’

The dash for gas remains “in full swing” and it will continue to grab an increasing share of the power generation market between now and 2018, according to the International Energy Agency.

The IEA famously stated in November 2011 that the global energy market was entering a “golden age for gas”, and the agency maintains this stance in its Medium-Term Gas Market Report, which is published today.

However it adds that the gas boom will not proceed at the pace it predicted in 2011, thanks to demand weakness in Europe as well as upstream production difficulties in the Middle East and Africa.

And it also forecasts that the boom in shale gas “will remain a North American phenomenon in the medium term”.

Launching the report in St Petersburg in Russia today, IEA executive director Maria van de Hoeven (pictured) said: “Even though we have revised our growth estimates downwards, the ‘golden age’ of gas remains in full swing.”

However the report claims that gas faces challenges in all major geographic regions.

It states: “In the United States, in the absence of policy constraints on coal-fired plants, recovering gas prices will prompt coal to regain some of its share of the power market, putting US greenhouse-gas emissions from the power sector back on a growing track. Europe sees only a weak and partial recovery due to the Eurozone crisis and low carbon prices. Gas exports from the Middle East decline amid runaway domestic demand growth ” especially in the power sector.”

The IEA maintains that the despite the runaway success of shale gas in the US, attempts to replicate this boom in other regions will be hindered by “geology, infrastructure and environmental constraints, as well as lack of social acceptance”.

The report also notes that China will account for 30 per cent of the growth of global gas demand, as the country will utilise the fuel to tackle its air quality concerns.