After growing by more than 2 per cent in 2019, the global gas use is expected to fall by around 4 per cent in 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic reduces energy consumption across the global economies. However, the resulting low gas prices, as well as clean air and climate policies, will promote further switching to gas from other more polluting energy sources, such as oil and coal. This trend was already underway before the pandemic, thanks to cost-competitive gas in key sectors including power, industry and transport, and major regions including Europe, North America and Asia.
In particular, liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports reached 482 billion cubic meters in 2019, up 13 per cent from 2018. While this figure is expected to fall by around 4.2 per cent in 2020, it could rebound quickly to previous levels as soon as 2021, depending on the persistence and longevity of the pandemic.
Overall, it remains difficult to assess the future impact of Covid-19 on the global economy, the energy sector and the gas industry. Initial assessments suggest that gas demand may decline 4 per cent in 2020 and BloombergNEF estimates that global LNG demand will shrink by 4.2 per cent this year, assuming the outbreak is contained by early 2021. The industry is expected to rebound quickly in 2021 and beyond, but it may be too early to gauge the full impact.