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The natural gas market is undergoing an important transformation thanks to LNG shipments to distant countries that do not have gas available domestically. In addition to this, the US has gone from being a gas importer to a natural gas exporter thanks to its ability to extract so-called nonconventional gas from shale, so far at a lower cost than LNG. The effects of this 'revolution' are causing significant changes in the use and export of LNG globally. In Latin America, for example, Chile has been importing LNG since 2009 and is considering importing shale gas from the US or using lower-cost coal in its power plants. In contrast, Mexico is sitting on large unexploited natural gas reserves, which has led its authorities to take a positive view of northern neighbor's development and exportation of nonconventional gas.
INCLUDED IN THIS MONTH'S SERIES:
Natural gas in the world
Estimates made by the US Department of Energy (DOE) in its International Energy Outlook 2010 are that world natural gas consumption will increase by 1.3% annually, taking the figure from the 297 Bcfd of natural gas consumed during 2007 to some 428 Bcfd by 2035.
Chile: LNG vs. coal
Thanks to the recent new wave of LNG imports, Chilean industry has been able to reconvert the power plants it converted to diesel in the wake of the Argentine gas crisis back to combined cycle natural gas plants. Use of LNG has also allowed the country to diversify an energy matrix that has been based mainly on hydroelectric and coal-fired plants in order to respond to growing environmental opposition to the installation of new power stations of these types.
Mexico returns to natural gas
Mexico has some of the largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world. However, due to the rapid decline of its major fields, both crude oil and natural gas production have been affected in recent years. Added to consistent growth in demand, especially for natural gas, this has meant that the country needs to complement domestic gas production with imports.
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