Natural gas is mostly used and seen as fuel for cooking and heating in most households. In 2013, about 21% of natural gas consumed in the United States was used in households, for stoves, ovens, and other appliances. Its other uses, however, go far and beyond kitchens. Natural gas is used for heating and sometimes air-conditioning in many commercial buildings. It is also used to make a great number of chemicals like ammonia, butane, methane, propane and acetic acid.
Natural gas is also an ingredient to many products which enable modern living. It is used for plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and fabrics. The construction industry also accounts for a lot of gas consumption. It is needed as a heat source for manufacturing glass, steel, tiles, ceramics and bricks. Recent years have also seen the rise in the use of natural gas as fuel for cars. So, where does the world get its fuel and ingredient for everyday living? Here are the top 10 gas producing countries in the world in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):
No. 1: United States of America
Topping the list of the world’s top gas producing countries is the United States, producing 24.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012. Natural gas supplies almost a quarter of all energy used in the United States. 88 percent of this is produced locally and the rest are imported from Canada. Due to its cleanliness, efficiency and dependability, the use of natural gas in America is projected to increase by 11 percent in 2030.
Russia holds the largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, accounting for about a quarter of the world’s proven reserves. In 2012, the country produced 23.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. About 76 percent of this is exported to countries in Western Europe, with Germany, Italy, Turkey, France and the United Kingdom receiving the bulk of exports. Smaller volumes are also shipped via pipeline to Finland, Greece and Austria.
No. 3: Iran
Holding the world’s second largest proven natural gas reserves, Iran ranks third among the top gas producing countries in the world. Producing 8.1 trillion cubic feet in 2012, Iran’s natural gas sector is still considered underdeveloped and is mostly used to meet local demand. About 59 percent of domestic energy consumption in 2010 was supplied by natural gas alone.
No. 4: Algeria
Algeria is the largest natural gas producer in Africa, and is the fourth largest natural gas producer in the world, despite the continuing decline in production since 2005. The country produced 6.4 trillion cubic feet in 2012. It is one of the world’s largest exporters of natural gas in the form of LNG, supplying mostly to European countries like France, Turkey, Spain, and Italy. Algeria also exports to India and Japan.
No. 5: Canada
Even with relatively small shares of the world’s proven natural gas reserves, Canada ranks fifth among the top gas producing countries and is the fourth largest exporter of natural gas in the world. The country produced 6.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012, supplying largely to the United States. However, increasing proportions of natural gas production were devoted to meeting domestic needs in recent years, inversely proportional to the net exports to the United States.
No. 6: Qatar
Qatar ranks only sixth among the top ten gas producing countries, but has been the largest importer of LNG in the world since 2006. They also hold the third largest proven natural gas reserves. Natural gas consumption in the country continues to rise with its economy, but Qatar continues to export almost 85 percent of all its production. In 2012, it produced 5.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Development and investments continue, and the country is the leader in gas-to-liquids technology, processing gas into hydrocarbon.
No. 7: Norway
Norway currently holds the largest oil and natural gas reserves in Europe. It is seventh among the top 10 gas producing countries in the world, and is the third largest importer in the world as of 2012, behind Russia and Qatar. Estimates by the EIA show that Norway exported 96 percent of its total production- about 3.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2013. Bulks of Norway’s exports go to the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and France.
No. 8: Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s largest oil producer, also holds the world’s fifth largest proven natural gas reserves. However, production is still limited at 4 trillion cubic feet in 2012. At this number, only fifteen percent of the country has been sufficiently explored for gas, according to Saudi Aramco. The Kingdom does not export or import natural gas, and all production is consumed domestically. According to projections, Saudi Arabia’s local demand for natural gas will almost double in 2030, from 3.5 trillion cubic feet annual demand in 2011.
No. 9: China
China is projecting to be the world’s largest importer of oil in 2014, and natural gas production is rapidly increasing as well. It currently holds the largest proven natural gas reserves in the Asia-pacific region, and huge investments are being poured to strengthen and spur growth in the country’s natural gas sector. While developing mature natural gas fields, Chinese oil companies are exploring more sources like deep water, shale gas, and gas from coal seams which are also found in other gas producing countries. China produced 3.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012.
Tenth on the list of the world’s top gas producing countries is Indonesia, producing 3.0 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012. It holds the 13th largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, and the second-largest in Asia, behind China. Its strong economy and growing population doubled domestic demand since 2005, causing shortages which forced the Indonesian government to buy spot cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet export obligations. Despite this, the country continues to be a large exporter of LNG, selling almost half of its natural gas produce.