Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?
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Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?

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The Largest Producers of Natural Gas

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Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Natural gas prices have risen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, exacerbating an already tight supply situation.

Making matters worse, Moscow has since cut gas exports to Europe to multi-year lows, sending Europe’s gas price to almost 10 times its pre-war average.

Using data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the above infographic provides further context on the gas market by visualizing the world’s largest gas producers in 2021.

Natural Gas Consumption at All-Time High in 2021

Natural gas is part of nearly every aspect of our daily lives. It is used for heating, cooking, electricity generation, as fuel for motor vehicles, in fertilizers, and in the manufacture of plastics.

The fuel is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas and non-renewable fossil fuel that forms below the Earth’s surface. Although the Earth has enormous quantities of natural gas, much of it is in areas far from where the fuel is needed. To facilitate transport and reduce volume, natural gas is frequently converted into liquefied natural gas (LNG), in a process called liquefaction.

Despite global efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, natural gas consumption reached a new all-time high in 2021, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by 3.3%.

Demand is expected to decline slightly in 2022 and remain subdued up to 2025, according to the International Energy Agency.

Region2021 Demand in Billion Cubic Meters (bcm)2022P (bcm)2025P (bcm)
Africa169172188
Asia Pacific895907990
Central and South America153147153
Eurasia634619632
Europe 604549536
Middle East564582627
North America1,0841,1081,116
World 4,1034,0834,243

The Asia Pacific region and the industrial sector are expected to be the main drivers of global gas consumption in the coming years

Natural Gas Production, by Country

The world’s top 10 producers of natural gas account for about 73% of total production.

RankCountry2021 Production (bcm)Share %
#1🇺🇸 United States934.223.1%
#2🇷🇺 Russia701.717.4%
#3🇮🇷 Iran 256.76.4%
#4🇨🇳 China209.25.2%
#5🇶🇦 Qatar 177.04.4%
#6🇨🇦 Canada172.34.3%
#7🇦🇺 Australia 147.23.6%
#8🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 117.32.9%
#9🇳🇴 Norway114.32.8%
#10🇩🇿 Algeria100.82.5%
#12🇹🇲 Turkmenistan79.32.0%
#13🇲🇾 Malaysia 74.21.8%
#14🇪🇬 Egypt 67.81.7%
#15🇮🇩 Indonesia 59.31.5%
#16🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates57.01.4%
#17🇺🇿 Uzbekistan50.91.3%
#18🇳🇬 Nigeria 45.91.1%
🌐 Rest of the World671.816.6%
🌐 Global Total4,036.9100.0%

Natural gas accounts for 32% of primary energy consumption in the United States, the world’s largest producer. Russia is the second biggest producer, and also has at least 37 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, the most in the world.

China’s natural gas production grew by 7.8% in 2021, and it has nearly doubled since 2011. This sustained growth in production is partly down to government policies incentivizing coal-to-gas switching.

Europe’s Natural Gas Crisis

Russia has significantly reduced flows of natural gas to Europe since Western nations imposed sanctions on the Kremlin following the invasion of Ukraine. Before the war, the European Union (EU) imported about 40% of its natural gas from Russia.

The gas is transported by the Nord Stream system, a pair of offshore natural gas pipeline networks in Europe that run under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Russian energy giant Gazprom recently halved the amount of natural gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity, blaming Western sanctions for a delay in the delivery in a necessary turbine. EU officials say Russia is “weaponizing” its gas supply.

Amid tensions, the EU bloc outlined a plan to phase out dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Lithuania ceased Russian gas imports at the beginning of April. Estonia’s and Latvia’s imports also dropped to zero at the start of that month. Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Poland all announced that they do not intend to renew long-term contracts with Gazprom.

Despite these efforts, Europe remains dependent on Russia for its supply of natural gas, at least in the short and medium term.

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Energy

Visualizing the World’s Largest Hydroelectric Dams

Hydroelectric dams generate 40% of the world’s renewable energy, the largest of any type. View this infographic to learn more.

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Visualizing the World’s Largest Hydroelectric Dams

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Did you know that hydroelectricity is the world’s biggest source of renewable energy? According to recent figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), it represents 40% of total capacity, ahead of solar (28%) and wind (27%).

This type of energy is generated by hydroelectric power stations, which are essentially large dams that use the water flow to spin a turbine. They can also serve secondary functions such as flow monitoring and flood control.

To help you learn more about hydropower, we’ve visualized the five largest hydroelectric dams in the world, ranked by their maximum output.

Overview of the Data

The following table lists key information about the five dams shown in this graphic, as of 2021. Installed capacity is the maximum amount of power that a plant can generate under full load.

CountryDamRiverInstalled Capacity
(gigawatts)
Dimensions
(meters)
🇨🇳 ChinaThree Gorges DamYangtze River22.5181 x 2,335
🇧🇷 Brazil / 🇵🇾 ParaguayItaipu DamParana River14.0196 x 7,919
🇨🇳 ChinaXiluodu DamJinsha River13.9286 x 700
🇧🇷 BrazilBelo Monte DamXingu River11.290 X 3,545
🇻🇪 VenezuelaGuri DamCaroni River10.2162 x 7,426

At the top of the list is China’s Three Gorges Dam, which opened in 2003. It has an installed capacity of 22.5 gigawatts (GW), which is close to double the second-place Itaipu Dam.

In terms of annual output, the Itaipu Dam actually produces about the same amount of electricity. This is because the Parana River has a low seasonal variance, meaning the flow rate changes very little throughout the year. On the other hand, the Yangtze River has a significant drop in flow for several months of the year.

For a point of comparison, here is the installed capacity of the world’s three largest solar power plants, also as of 2021:

  • Bhadla Solar Park, India: 2.2 GW
  • Hainan Solar Park, China: 2.2 GW
  • Pavagada Solar Park, India: 2.1 GW

Compared to our largest dams, solar plants have a much lower installed capacity. However, in terms of cost (cents per kilowatt-hour), the two are actually quite even.

Closer Look: Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam is an engineering marvel, costing over $32 billion to construct. To wrap your head around its massive scale, consider the following facts:

  • The Three Gorges Reservoir (which feeds the dam) contains 39 trillion kg of water (42 billion tons)
  • In terms of area, the reservoir spans 400 square miles (1,045 square km)
  • The mass of this reservoir is large enough to slow the Earth’s rotation by 0.06 microseconds

Of course, any man-made structure this large is bound to have a profound impact on the environment. In a 2010 study, it was found that the dam has triggered over 3,000 earthquakes and landslides since 2003.

The Consequences of Hydroelectric Dams

While hydropower can be cost-effective, there are some legitimate concerns about its long-term sustainability.

For starters, hydroelectric dams require large upstream reservoirs to ensure a consistent supply of water. Flooding new areas of land can disrupt wildlife, degrade water quality, and even cause natural disasters like earthquakes.

Dams can also disrupt the natural flow of rivers. Other studies have found that millions of people living downstream from large dams suffer from food insecurity and flooding.

Whereas the benefits have generally been delivered to urban centers or industrial-scale agricultural developments, river-dependent populations located downstream of dams have experienced a difficult upheaval of their livelihoods.
– Richter, B.D. et al. (2010)

Perhaps the greatest risk to hydropower is climate change itself. For example, due to the rising frequency of droughts, hydroelectric dams in places like California are becoming significantly less economical.

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Energy

What are the Benefits of Fusion Energy?

One of the most promising technologies, fusion, has attracted the attention of governments and private companies.

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General-Fusion_Benefits-of-Fusion
The following content is sponsored by General Fusion

What are The Benefits of Fusion Energy?

As the world moves towards net-zero emissions, sustainable and affordable power sources are urgently needed by humanity.

One of the most promising technologies, fusion, has attracted the attention of governments and private companies like Chevron and Google. In fact, Bloomberg Intelligence has estimated that the fusion market may eventually be valued at $40 trillion.

In this infographic sponsored by General Fusion, we discuss the benefits of fusion as a clean energy source.

The Ultimate Source of Energy 

Fusion powers the sun and the stars, where the immense force of gravity compresses and heats hydrogen plasma, fusing it into helium and releasing enormous amounts of energy. Here on Earth, scientists use isotopes of hydrogen—deuterium and tritium—to power fusion plants.

Fusion energy offers a wide range of benefits, such as:

1. Ample resources:

Both atoms necessary for nuclear fusion are abundant on Earth: deuterium is found in seawater, while tritium can be produced from lithium.

2. Sustainable

Energy-dense generation like fusion minimizes land use needs and can replace aging infrastructure like old power plants. 

3. Clean

There are no CO₂ or other harmful atmospheric emissions from the fusion process.

4. Scalable

With limited expected regulatory burden or export controls, fusion scales effectively with a small land footprint that can be located close to cities.

5. Safety advantage

Unlike atomic fission, fusion does not create any long-lived radioactive nuclear waste. Its radiation profile is similar to widely used medical and industrial applications like cyclotrons for cancer treatment.

6. Reliable

Fusion energy is on-demand and independent from the weather, making it an excellent option in a dependable portfolio for power generation.

Commercializing Fusion Energy

More than 130 countries have now set or are considering a target of reducing emissions to net-zero by 2050. Meanwhile, global energy demand is expected to increase by 47% in the next 30 years.

While renewables like wind and solar are intermittent and need a baseload source of clean energy to supplement them, fusion, when commercially implemented, could deliver clean, abundant, reliable, and cost-competitive energy. 

General Fusion seeks to transform the world’s energy supply with the most practical path to commercial fusion energy. Click here to learn more.

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