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Global demand for natural gas is expected to expand significantly as more nations adopt environmentally cleaner fuels to meet future economic growth and prioritize alternatives to minimize the impact of increasing oil-based energy costs. The environmental benefits of natural gas are clear. Natural gas emits 43% fewer carbon emissions than coal, and 30% fewer emissions than oil, for each unit of energy delivered. Many of the most rapidly growing gas markets are in emerging economies in Asia, particularly India and China, the Middle East and South America, economies which battle the balance between air quality and living standards on a daily basis.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), worldwide natural gas demand grew by 57 Bcf/d from 2000 to 2007, nearly 25%. The EIA also projects global natural gas demand to grow over 40 Bcf/d by the year 2015, and projects a further growth in demand of over 50 Bcf/d by 2025.
LNG is the fastest-growing component of the global natural gas market, increasing at a 6% annual rate over the last decade. For countries that lack indigenous natural gas resources and delivery infrastructure, LNG represents a rapid and cost-effective means of introducing natural gas into their local fuel mix. Currently there are 25 LNG-importing countries in Europe, Asia, South America, Central America, North America and the Middle East, up from 17 importing countries in 2007. Numerous developing countries, including Poland, Croatia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Lebanon, among others, are considering plans to build new LNG terminals and enter the global LNG trade.