BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe

Natural gas

The Arctic Princess in the port of Melkøya/NorwayThe Arctic Princess in the port of Melkøya/Norway Source: Statoil ASA

With respect to its proportion of global primary energy consumption, natural gas is the third most important energy resource in 2016 behind crude oil and coal. Despite the comprehensive global supplies and decreasing prices, natural gas consumption world-wide only rose by around 1.4 %, and therefore remained below the average historical growth rates. Nevertheless, a rise in global natural gas consumption is expected in the medium to long term. Because of the high remaining natural gas potential, global supplies with this natural resource can still be maintained for several decades even if demand grows more strongly.

With its growing supply grid, Germany and Europe are connected to a large part of the global natural gas reserves, either via pipelines or LNG import terminals, and therefore are in a relatively comfortable position, although geopolitical risks are still a key factor affecting natural gas supplies. The total regasification capacity in the 25 European terminals was 216 bcm in 2016. This corresponds to around 40 % of the natural gas consumption in Europe.

Europe accounted for around 45 % of global natural gas imports. Germany's share of 112 bcm alone accounted for 23 %, or nearly one quarter of total European imports. At a global level, this meant that Germany was the largest importer in 2016, and is also one of the largest consumers in the world with a consumption of around 101.5 bcm. At the same time, however, the Federal Republic of Germany has major natural gas storage capacities even at a global level. At the end of 2016, the maximum usable working gas volumes in these storage sites totalled around 24 bcm, which corresponds to around one quarter of annual consumption.

BGR collects and evaluates all the accessible information on the global distribution and availability of natural gas.

It investigates the regional natural gas potential in sedimentary basins and on continental margins, and develops new exploration methods or improves existing exploration technologies.


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