In this article, we will list the top natural gas-producing countries and the current market trends. If you want to skip our overview of the natural gas market, read 5 Countries That Produce the Most Natural Gas.
The World Energy Administration's International Energy Outlook 2023 reports that natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel globally. Its consumption is expected to increase from 4.36 trillion cubic meters in 2022 to a range between 4.8 trillion and 6.8 trillion cubic meters by 2050. This growth in consumption is widespread regionally, with notable increases in countries such as India and China and in regions including Africa, and the Middle East. The primary sectors driving this increased consumption are the electric power sector, where natural gas is replacing retiring coal-fired power generation, and the industrial sector, where it fuels expanding industrial production.
In the US, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has projected an increase in dry gas production, domestic gas consumption, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports for 2023 and 2024. According to the EIA, the country's dry gas production is projected to reach 102.69 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) by the end of the year and to 104.93 Bcf/d in 2024, up from 98.13 Bcf/d in 2022. In terms of natural gas consumption, the figures, standing at, 88.56 Bcf/d in 2022, are expected to reach 89.72 Bcf/d in 2023, and then slightly decline to 88.84 Bcf/d in 2024.
To meet the growing demand, the world's top natural gas-producing countries are increasing production and investing in new extraction technologies. These efforts aim to expand existing fields and explore new reserves. However, these current efforts are deemed insufficient. According to the Institute of Energy Economics in Japan, the world will require approximately $7 trillion in investments to ensure an adequate natural gas supply through 2050.
Also Read: 20 Most Valuable Gas Companies in the World
The Biggest US Energy Deal in Decades - Exxon Acquires Pioneer
The Permian Basin, located in the southwestern part of the US, extends into western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. It accounts for nearly 15% of the US's natural gas production and is the country's largest oilfield. The EIA reports that natural gas production in the basin reached a record annual high, averaging 21 billion cubic feet per day. This production primarily comes from associated natural gas produced by oil-directed drilling. Notably, Lea and Eddy counties in New Mexico had been producing an average of 3.7 billion cubic feet of gas per day until March 2023, which constitutes 29% of the basin's gas production in the first quarter of this year.
Due to the basin's abundant resources, it has been of significant interest to major players in the oil and gas industry. In a strategic move to expand its presence in the basin, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) recently acquired Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE:PXD), marking the closure of one of the largest US energy deals recently. In October 2023, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) and Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD) formally announced a definitive agreement wherein ExxonMobil acquired Pioneer. This merger, an all-stock transaction, is valued at approximately $59.5 billion, equivalent to $253 per share, based on ExxonMobil's closing price as of October 5, 2023.
The merger combines Pioneer's 850,000 acres in the Midland Basin with ExxonMobil's 570,000 acres in the Delaware and Midland Basins. This consolidation will establish a leading position in the US for undeveloped oil and gas resources. According to Exxon's official press release, the merged entities will possess about 16 billion barrels of oil and gas resources in the Permian Basin.
Post-merger, ExxonMobil Corporation's (NYSE:XOM) production in the Permian basin is set to more than double to 1.3 million barrels per day, based on 2023 figures, and is expected to increase to approximately 2 million barrels per day by 2027. ExxonMobil views this deal with Pioneer Natural Resources Company (NYSE:PXD) as an opportunity to enhance US energy security by leveraging advanced technology and expertise to boost domestic energy supply.
Following the deal, Exxon Mobil Corp Chairman and CEO commented that:
"Pioneer is a clear leader in the Permian with a unique asset base and people with deep industry knowledge. The combined capabilities of our two companies will provide long-term value creation well in excess of what either company is capable of doing on a standalone basis."
Let's now discuss the top natural gas-producing countries in the world!
25 Countries That Produce the Most Natural Gas
We referred to the 72nd edition of the Energy Institute's Statistical Review of World Energy to identify the top natural gas-producing countries. Our list was compiled by averaging the annual natural gas production of these countries from 2020 to 2022, and ranking them in ascending order based on their average production.
Based on our findings, here are the leading natural gas-producing countries:
Average Annual Gas Production: 27.7 billion cubic meters
In 2023, Kazakhstan planned its third oil and gas bid round, targeting four fields and 14 acreages in established production provinces such as Mangistau, Atyrau, and Aktobe. The initiative aims to produce 55 billion cubic meters of gas, including 28 billion marketable gas, with around 79 gas production companies involved, 23 of which integrate into the gas transmission system for domestic and export purposes.
Additionally, in 2022, Kazakhstan completed 142 gas projects, increasing access to natural gas for over 284,800 people across 107 rural settlements. The government planned 86 more projects by the end of the year to extend gas access to an additional 170,000 people in 56 rural settlements. As of January 1, 2023, Kazakhstan's state balance sheet shows 307 oil fields with recoverable reserves of 4.4 billion tons, according to the Astana Times. Notably, as Kazakhstan is among the countries with the most natural resources, around 26.8% of its GDP comes from them, of which, its oil and uranium reserves are crucially important.
Average Annual Gas Production: 29.9 billion cubic meters
Thailand's natural gas production decreased by 18.7% year-on-year between 2021 and 2022, mainly due to declines in the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area and fields like Pailin and Sirikit. While the state-owned PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) has successfully boosted output from the Bongkot field, it faces challenges with the Erawan field. Efforts are underway to increase Erawan's production by 2024. However, overall production is expected to remain below consumption levels. Natural gas consumption in Thailand, largely driven by the power sector, rose from 21 billion cubic meters in January to 34.3 bcm in May 2023, accounting for 62% of total consumption.
Average Annual Gas Production: 30.6 billion cubic meters
In the first ten months of 2023, Azerbaijan transported 32.9639 billion cubic meters of natural gas through its main pipelines, a 4% increase from the previous year, as reported by the Pipeline Journal. The Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline, or the South Caucasus Pipeline, played a significant role in this transportation. Azerbaijan's proven gas reserves are 2.6 trillion cubic meters, with estimated reserves reaching around 3 trillion cubic meters. The Shah Deniz gas field, among the world's largest, holds reserves of approximately 1.2 trillion cubic meters. Additionally, Serbia has signed an agreement with Azerbaijan to purchase 400 million cubic meters of natural gas annually from 2024, diversifying its supply away from Russia.
Average Annual Gas Production: 30.66 billion cubic meters
Pakistan, despite being among natural gas-rich countries, faces challenges due to rapidly depleting reserves, evidenced by a 12.2% year-on-year production decrease from 2021 to 2022. A report by the Energy Planning Resource Centre (EPRC) in June 2023 highlighted a stark decrease in the country's recoverable gas reserves, which fell from an original 63,311 billion cubic feet to 20,951 billion cubic feet by 2021. To address these challenges, Pakistan has increasingly turned to LNG imports, mainly from Qatar. Since 2016, these imports have grown from 282 million cubic feet per day to 1,070 million cubic feet per day by 2021. Estimates suggest that by 2030, Pakistan will need to import 1,921 million cubic feet per day of LNG to meet its projected demand.
Average Annual Gas Production: 36.6 billion cubic meters
Argentina is also one of the leading natural gas-producing countries, and its gas sector has seen a positive change after the development of the Vaca Muerta shale gas deposit in the Neuquen Province. Vaca Muerta is the world's second-largest shale gas deposit and fourth-largest shale oil deposit. The Vaca Muerta pipeline, operational since July this year, started with a capacity of 11 million cubic meters per day and is expected to increase to 40 million cubic meters per day by the second half of 2024. The government of Neuquén province estimates that gas output from Vaca Muerta will reach 140 million cubic meters per day by 2030, contributing to Argentina's projected total gas production of 174 million cubic meters per day. YPF, the Argentine state energy company, plays a crucial role in Vaca Muerta, but other companies like Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX), Shell Plc (NYSE:SHEL), and Exxon Mobil Corp are also active in the field. Shell Plc (NYSE:SHEL) plans to increase its oil production to 50,000 barrels per day in Vaca Muerta and is currently investing $500 million annually in its operations in Argentina.
20. United Kingdom
Average Annual Gas Production: 36.8 billion cubic meters
The United Kingdom's natural gas production, especially from the North Sea, is crucial to its energy strategy. In the first half of 2022, UK gas production increased by an impressive 26% compared to the same period the previous year. This surge was driven by new gas fields in the southern North Sea, notably Harbour Energy's Tolmount field and IOG's Saturn Banks project. In January 2023, Britain conducted its first oil and gas exploration licensing round since 2019, as reported by Reuters. This round attracted 115 bids from 76 companies for 258 of the 931 blocks on offer, an increase from the 104 bids for 245 blocks in the previous round. This renewed interest reflects the government's efforts to boost domestic hydrocarbon output amid Europe's shift from Russian fuel. However, this initiative has faced criticism from climate activists and legal challenges from environmental groups like Greenpeace.
Average Annual Gas Production: 37.8 billion cubic meters
Although Mexico is among the major gas producing countries, its natural gas production remains challenged by infrastructure limitations. S&P Global reports that in 2023, gas production increased by 200-400 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) compared to 2022, thanks to new developments like the Quesqui, Ixachi, and Tupilco projects. Despite this, Mexico's natural gas output has been declining since 2015 and is expected to drop to as low as 500 MMcf/d by 2030. The country heavily relies on gas imports from the United States, mainly from Texas. In 2023, Mexico imported an average of 5.7 Bcf/d of gas, with peaks nearly reaching 7 Bcf/d. This dependency is projected to increase, with US gas imports expected to constitute about 79% of Mexico's gas supply by 2050, up from 68% in 2023.
Average Annual Gas Production: 39.7 billion cubic meters
Oman, the Middle East's largest oil producer outside of OPEC, is enhancing its natural gas production. In early 2023, Oman commenced natural gas and condensate production from the Mabrouk field. The field's gas production is expected to exceed 0.5 billion cubic feet per day by mid-2024. Oman plans to establish an integrated gas company to manage its natural gas assets, including both exports and imports of gas and its derivative products.
Average Annual Gas Production: 45 billion cubic meters
In 2022, Nigeria faced issues such as pipeline vandalism and crude theft, costing the country around $2 billion in the first eight months. In 2023, Nigeria is focusing on various upstream projects for recovery. Key projects include Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX) Nigeria's Project Panther on OMLs 49, 90, and 95, involving drilling 37 development wells and TotalEnergies' development of the Preowei discovery on OML 130. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has recently renewed its agreement on the Preowei project with TotalEnergies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, facilitating a $2.1 billion investment.
Average Annual Gas Production:48.9 billion cubic meters
Uzbekistan is actively enhancing its natural gas production, leveraging its substantial gas reserves. The country has partnered with Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB), a leading global technology company, to optimize gas production in Uzbekistan's fields. A joint working group comprising experts from both Uzbekneftegaz and Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB), has been formed to study gas deposits and prospective areas within Uzbekneftegaz's portfolio. Under a long-term agreement, Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) has proposed and discussed actions for the project's success. Additionally, Air Products & Chemicals Inc (NYSE:APD), a notable industrial gas company, signed a $1 billion investment agreement with the Government of Uzbekistan and Uzbekneftegaz JSC. This deal allows Air Products & Chemicals Inc (NYSE:APD) to acquire, own, and operate a natural gas-to-syngas processing facility in Qashqadaryo Province. The facility, owned by Air Products & Chemicals Inc (NYSE:APD) and part of the state-owned energy company Uzbekneftegaz, has an annual capacity of 1.5 million tons.
15. United Arab Emirates
Average Annual Gas Production: 55.6 billion cubic meters
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the top natural gas-producing countries, is expanding its gas production capabilities. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) awarded contracts worth approximately $17 billion for the Hail and Ghasha Offshore Development project. This ambitious project, aiming for net zero carbon dioxide emissions, is expected to produce 1.5 billion standard cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of gas before the end of the decade.
Average Annual Gas Production: 58.8 billion cubic meters
Indonesia, with its rich hydrocarbon resources, is developing its natural gas sector as part of its energy transition strategy. The Indonesia Deepwater Development (IDD) project in the Makassar Strait off Borneo includes two major components: Bangka and Gendalo-Gehem, with nearly 3 trillion cubic feet of combined recoverable gas resources. Originally operated by Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX), a 63% stake in IDD was later sold to the Italian oil and gas company Eni. The total investment for IDD is estimated at $6.98 billion. The Bangka project commenced production in 2016, and the Gendalo-Gehem project, potentially one of Indonesia's deepest offshore gas fields, is expected to start production in 2027 with a peak output of 844 million cubic feet per day.
Average Annual Gas Production: 63.6 billion cubic meters
Egypt's natural gas sector has faced challenges recently despite the country's ambitions to become a regional gas hub. In the first five months of 2023, Egypt's natural gas production fell to a three-year low, marking a 9% year-on-year decrease and a 12% drop from the same period in 2021. The Zohr field, once a major contributor, saw its production decrease to 2.3 billion cubic feet per day in 2023, down from its 2019 output of 2.7 Bcf/d.
Average Annual Gas Production: 74.5 billion cubic meters
Turkmenistan, one of the leading natural gas-producing countries, is enhancing its gas export infrastructure, notably through the development of the "Line D" pipeline. This pipeline, integral to China's Belt & Road Initiative, aims to transport 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Turkmenistan to China. Despite challenges like complex price negotiations, the project is a strategic move by China to secure energy resources and diversify its gas supply sources. In 2022, China imported 35 billion cubic meters of gas via three pipelines from Turkmenistan. The Line D pipeline, expected to become operational around 2028, will further establish Turkmenistan as a key gas supplier to China.
Average Annual Gas Production: 77.5 billion cubic meters
In 2022, Malaysia's state oil company, Petronas, intensified its offshore gas exploration, drilling twice as many wells as in the previous year with a 60% success rate. This led to the discovery of new gas fields, primarily off the coast of Sarawak, bolstering Malaysia's position as a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Sarawak's gas fields have seen significant discoveries by major companies, including Shell plc (NYSE:SHEL) and Mubadala Energy.
Average Annual Gas Production: 93.5 billion cubic meters
The EIA reports states that at the beginning of 2023, Algeria had around 159 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves, ranking as the world's tenth-largest. A significant portion of its gas extraction occurs at the Hassi R'Mel field, one of the largest in the country. This year, Algeria emerged as Italy's largest gas supplier and continued strong pipeline flows to Spain. According to African Business, Algeria's national oil company, Sonatrach, has initiated natural gas production at three Gourar Basin fields as part of its South West Gas Project. Sonatrach is also investing in a $40 billion plan focused primarily on gas exploration and production to develop its gas fields further and sustain production capacity. Al Mayadeen English notes that the country discovered six new oil and gas fields in the first quarter of 2023.
Average Annual Gas Production: 115 billion cubic meters
Norway, currently among the countries that produce the most natural gas, is expected to maintain high production levels until at least 2026, following significant investments in offshore gas fields. In 2022, the Norwegian government approved the development of 19 oil and gas fields, with total investments exceeding 200 billion Norwegian crowns ($18.51 billion). Notably, Equinor ASA (NYSE:EQNR) and Aker BP received final approval for three and nine projects, respectively.
These investments are set to considerably enhance Norway's gas reserves and production capacity. In 2022, Norway surpassed Russia as Europe's largest gas supplier, achieving its highest output in five years at 122 billion cubic meters, an 8% increase. The Equinor ASA (NYSE:EQNR) and Aker BP projects are expected to boost Norway's reserves by an estimated 252 million cubic meters of oil equivalent, half of which is gas. Equinor ASA (NYSE:EQNR) remains dedicated to developing the Norwegian continental shelf's oil sector, with plans to exploit the Irpa and Verdande subsea oil fields in the Norwegian Sea, which are anticipated to produce significant quantities of low-carbon oil.
8. Saudi Arabia
Average Annual Gas Production: 116 billion cubic meters
Saudi Arabia is expanding its natural gas production, led by Saudi Aramco. The company has discovered new natural gas fields, including two in the eastern region (Awtad and AlDahna) and others in the Empty Quarter, enhancing its daily production capacity by over 100 million cubic feet of gas. The Jafurah Field, the largest unconventional non-associated gas field, contains about 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. The commencement of tight gas production at South Ghawar and the planned start of production at Jafurah by 2025, with an investment of 5 to 6 billion riyals ($1.3-$1.6 billion).
Average Annual Gas Production: 148.9 billion cubic meters
Australia is actively managing its natural gas resources. In 2021, the country's conventional gas reserves were estimated at 74.07 trillion cubic feet, a 15.6% increase from 2020, driven by investments in projects like Barossa and Scarborough. However, challenges are apparent, such as the anticipated production decrease in 2024 at Santos' Bayu-Undan field. Chevron is increasing gas production at its Wheatstone project, aiming to reach 203 million cubic feet per day from 194 million Bcf/d. Additionally, BP's acquisition of Shell's 27% stake in the Browse joint venture in Western Australia signifies a move towards exploiting the country's largest untapped gas resource. Woodside's $12 billion investment in the Scarborough gas field further underscores efforts to strengthen the industry.
Average Annual Gas Production: 174 billion cubic meters
Western Canada's natural gas production reached a 20-year high in late 2022, peaking at 17.9 billion cubic feet per day. Canada is notably increasing its natural gas production capacity, as evidenced by the projected investment of $28.5 billion in 2023 for conventional oil and natural gas projects. Future growth is planned, with new wells, particularly those driven by LNG activities, expected to increase output from 1 billion cubic feet per day in 2021 to 7.3 billion by 2050.
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Disclosure: None. 25 Countries That Produce the Most Natural Gas is originally published at Insider Monkey.