Only about a quarter of global conventional gas reserves have been produced to date, and gas discoveries continue to exceed today's consumption. Of the proven natural gas reserves, 80 per cent of conventional and 35 per cent of unconventional resources are within economic transport distance of Europe, providing the diversity needed to greatly improve Europe's future energy security.
With an estimated 344 trillion cubic meters of technically recoverable unconventional gas around the world (806 tcm total resources) according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), shale gas, tight gas and coal bed methane (CBM) are set to play a large part in fulfilling future energy supply. IEA projections show that in the United States alone, supply of unconventional gas could increase to an amount equal to 82 per cent of European demand by 2035.
By 2040, unconventional gas is forecast to account for 30 per cent of global production, up from 10 per cent in 2010. The application of existing technologies to these unconventional supplies has raised the prospect of being able to tap into around 250 years of global gas supply at current demand levels.
Natural gas has been proven as a reliable and cost-efficient energy source for power generation, and it is expected to be the fastest-growing major fuel source of the next two decades. It is estimated that global demand for natural gas will be 60 per cent higher by 2040 than it was in 2010, overtaking coal as the world's second-largest source of energy.