North America could be come a net exporter of natural gas by about 2020, Irving-based Exxon Mobil says in its latest outlook for world energy markets
The world's largest private oil and gas producer also said North America -- Canada, the United States and Mexico -- would be a net exporter of both crude oil and natural gas by about 2030. The company's annual outlook projects supply and demand trends to 2040.
Exxon also sees natural gas use gaining at the expense of coal, owing to the impact of climate change concerns and public policies. By 2040, natural gas will account for 30 percent of global electricity generation, compared with less than 25 percent today, Exxon says.
Still, the company doesn't expect today's wide spread in the price of natural gas around the world to narrow any time soon. A glut of gas in North America, spurred by hydraulic fracturing, has driven its price down sharply, while Europe and especially Asia pay much higher prices, especially for liquefied natural gas shipped around the world.
Bill Colton, Exxon's vice president of strategic corporate planning, told reporters on a conference call today that the company's believes the U.S. Department of Energy's forecast last week of about 10 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas exports over the long term is "a reasonable estimate."