Despite the seemingly rapid increase in natural gas consumption in the US over the last five years, the biggest growth has actually been in Asia and the Middle East.
World consumption has doubled from 53 trilling cubic feet (GCF) to 113 tcf over the period from 1980 to 2010, according to figures complied recently by the Energy Information Administration. North American consumption climbed from 22 tcf to 29 tcf, a 31 percent increase. But the rest of the world increased much faster and North America's portion of the market actually fell from 43 percent to 26 percent over the period. Europe and the former Soviet Union have followed a similar path. European consumption has nearly doubled, from 11 tcf to 10 tcf . Russia actually peaked in 1990 at 25 tcf and has declined since. Instead, the main increase has been in Asia and the Middle East, both of which started at nearly zero.
Production, on the other hand (bottom map), is still centered in North America (29 tcf) and the former Soviet Union (26 tcf), although Asia (16 tcf) and the Middle East (16 tcf) are coming up fast. North America and the former Soviet Union have jockeyed for the lead over the past two decades, with the Americas now just moving barely ahead, while Europe (11 tcf) has remained almost perfectly stable. Africa (7 tcf) has risen slightly while Central and South America (5 tcf) and Australia (2 tcf) have not showed much progress. The recent developing of fracking technology, which is starting to be adopted all over the world, may soon change all this.
Most gas is now consumed domestically, which is why consumption closely mirrors production. But with growing pipeline construction and the development of liquid natural gas terminals, the market may soon come to resemble that of world oil.