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The U.S. shale gas production boom isn’t the only big news in global natural gas markets. Major changes predicted to shape gas markets in the coming decades include the growing number of LNG export projects under construction and proposed (including North America LNG export projects), rising demand in Asia, and a wider and deeper Panama Canal that will boost LNG tanker traffic between Atlantic and Pacific markets.
And of all the unknowns facing global natural gas markets in the years ahead, none loom larger than China. The nation of more than 1.3 billion people could buy a lot more liquefied natural gas, or not. It could buy a lot more pipeline gas from Turkmenistan and maybe even Russia, or not. It could produce from its own massive shale gas reserves, or not. Its electrical generating plants could break out of the Coal Age, or not.
These all lead to the big question among panelists and attendees at the 11th annual Platts LNG conference Feb. 16-17 in Houston: What can they expect for the price of gas?
The doubt is whether anyone really can accurately predict future supply-and-demand numbers — and prices. “I find it a little disconcerting that everybody has so much confidence so far out into the future,” cautioned Jimmy Straughan, chief commercial officer for BP LNG Americas.