IEA, IEF and OPEC hold fourth Symposium on Gas and Coal Market Outlooks

IEA IEF Opec meeting

The Symposium has been held every two years since 2012, in response to a call from G20 leaders. (Photograph: IEA)

The fourth Symposium on Gas and Coal Market Outlooks was held in Paris yesterday by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Energy Forum (IEF) and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to exchange views and compare outlooks for natural gas and coal markets in the short, medium and long term.

The meeting brought together more than 100 participants, including experts, government officials, business leaders and representatives from the gas and coal industries. It consisted of separate sessions covering natural gas markets, coal markets and the competition between the two fuels in the power sector where the landscape is changing rapidly due to the build-up growth of renewables.

Participants addressed the challenges facing natural gas and coal demand. Continued economic expansion, centered in developing Asia, will boost the demand for energy, particularly natural gas. However, strong renewables growth is having a significant impact on gas and coal demand in the power sector worldwide. Over the medium term, natural gas demand is expected to grow moderately, while coal demand is in the midst of a decade of stagnation.

Participants discussed the need for investment to replace declining production from existing assets and, in the case of natural gas, to meet growing needs. They also explored the prospects for liquified natural gas (LNG), where substantial new liquefaction capacity is coming into service. LNG supply is diversifying globally with major suppliers influencing each other and providing more liquidity in LNG trading. Those extra supplies of flexible LNG have been absorbed by growing Asian demand, mainly from China, driven by a requirement for less polluting fuels for residential and industry sectors.

The longer-term discussions focused on how the implementation of measures to meet the climate change mitigation targets under the Paris Agreement would affect demand for coal and for natural gas.  Coal consumption in many developed economies is expected to decline as more countries seek to limit the use of coal for power generation. Carbon capture utilisation and storage is one of the critical solutions needed to decarbonise energy systems, but is lagging behind other low-carbon energy technologies.

The Symposium, which has been held every two years since 2012, in response to a call from the G20 leaders’ Summit (Cannes, 2011) for continued annual dialogue between producers and consumers on short-, medium- and long-term outlooks and forecasts for oil, gas and coal.