Nearly 80% of the world's total proven natural gas reserves are located in ten countries. Russia tops the list, holding about a quarter of world's total gas reserves, followed by Iran and Qatar in the Middle East. Hydrocarbons-technology.com profiles the top 10 countries with the world's biggest proven gas reserves.
Russia holds the largest amount of natural gas reserves in the world. The country was estimated to possess about 1,688 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven gas reserves as of January 2013, accounting for about one fourth of the world's total proven gas reserves.
More than half of Russia's gas reserves are located in Siberia. Three of the major Siberian fields, namely Yamburg, Urengoy and Medvezh'ye, account for approximately 45% of the country's gas reserves. The majority of the country's gas reserves under development and production are located in the Nadym-Pur-Taz (NPT) region of upper Western Siberia.
Russia produced 20.916Tcf of natural gas in 2012. The state-run oil and gas company Gazprom dominates upstream gas production in the country.
The company accounts for about 80% of Russia's total natural gas output and controls more than 65% of proven gas reserves in the country. Other companies involved in gas production in Russia include Novatek, PSA operators, Lukoil and Rosneft.
Iran holds the world's second biggest natural gas reserves. Its proved natural gas reserves as of December 2012 stood at 1,187Tcf. Most of these reserves remain undeveloped due to international sanctions and delays in field development.
More than 60% of Iran's natural gas reserves are located offshore. Non-associated fields account for around 80% of the country's proven gas reserves. South Pars is the largest gas field comprising 27% of Iran's total proved natural gas reserves and 35% of the country's natural gas output. North Pars, Kish and Kangan are the other major natural gas fields in Iran.
Gross natural gas production of the country in 2012 stood at 8.1Tcf. National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), through its subsidiaries including National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC) and Pars Oil & Gas Company (POGC), manages the development and production of natural gas resources in the country. The National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), another subsidiary of NIOC, is responsible for natural gas infrastructure, transportation and distribution.
Qatar holds the third largest natural gas reserves in the world. Its proven natural gas reserves as of December 2012 were estimated at 885.3Tcf. It accounts for around 13% of the world's total natural gas reserves. Qatar is also the single largest LNG supplier in the world.
A vast majority of the country's natural gas reserves are located in the giant offshore North Field, which covers an area almost equivalent to Qatar itself. North Field is the world's largest non-associated gas field. It is the main source of Qatar's natural gas production. The Barzan gas project, the latest North Field project under construction, is expected to produce an additional 600 billion cubic feet of gas per year upon its completion in 2015.
The gross natural gas production of the country in 2012 stood at 5.7Tcf. The state-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP) is the dominant player in the country's natural gas sector.
The natural gas resources are developed by integrated mega projects in association with foreign players, including ExxonMobil, Shell and Total. QP holds major share in these projects. Qatargas and RasGas are the major LNG companies operating in Qatar.
The Central Asian country Turkmenistan holds the world's fourth largest natural gas reserves. The country's proven natural gas reserves as of December 2012 stood at 353.1Tcf. Turkmenistan, however, faces challenges in developing its gas reserves because of far-off end-use markets and a lack of sufficient pipeline infrastructure and foreign investment.
Most of Turkmenistan's proven gas reserves are located in the Amu Darya basin in the south-east and in the Murgab South Caspian basins in the western part of the country. The Dauletabad field in the Amu Darya basin, with estimated gas reserves of 60Tcf, is one of the largest and oldest gas fields in Turkmenistan. The South Yolotan area in the eastern region of Turkmenistan also contains significant gas reserves.
Turkmenistan produced 2.274Tcf of natural gas in 2012. Turkmengaz, one of the five state-run companies for exploration, development, production and distribution of hydrocarbon resources in the country, is responsible for gas production. Russia is the key export market for Turkmenistan natural gas. CNPC of China is the only foreign company directly operating in Turkmenistan with its involvement in Bagtyiarlyk project near the Amu Darya River.
United States of America
The United States ranks as the fifth largest, holding 334.07 Tcf of proven natural gas as of January 2013. The nation's proven gas reserves have steadily increased since 1999 with the expansion of exploration and development activities in its shale formations.
The Barnett play located in Texas and Montana, Haynesville play in the Texas-Louisiana Salt Basin, Marcellus Shale play in the Appalachian Basin, Fayetteville play, Woodford play in Oklahoma and Texas and the Eagle Ford play, in the Western Gulf Basin of South Texas, are the major shale plays contributing to the country's natural gas expansions. Barnett is the largest shale gas reserve in the nation. Other natural gas reserves in the country include the Antrim Shale in Michigan, Caney Shale in Oklahoma, Conesauga Shale in Alabama, Granite Wash Play in Texas and Oklahoma and the onshore and offshore Gulf of Mexico basin.
The US is currently the world's largest producer and consumer of natural gas. It produced 24.06Tcf of natural gas and consumed 25.5Tcf of natural gas in 2012. The country had more than 210 natural gas pipeline systems as of 2012. The interstate and intrastate transmission pipelines exceed 305,000 miles (490,850km) in length.
Saudi Arabia holds the sixth largest natural gas reserves in the world. Its estimated proven natural gas reserves as of December 2012 stood at 290Tcf, including its share of gas reserves in the Saudi-Kuwait Neutral Zone.
Associated gas at the giant oil fields, such as the Ghawar onshore field and the offshore fields Safaniya and Zuluf, account for about 57% of the country's proven gas reserves. The Ghawar field alone accounts for more than 30% of Saudi Arabia's proven gas reserves. Karan gas field, which came online in 2011, is the first offshore non-associated gas field to be developed in Saudi Arabia. Other major non-associated gas fields under development are the Arabiyah and Hasbah gas fields.
Gross natural gas production in Saudi Arabia in 2012 stood at 3.927Tcf. The country does not import or export natural gas. Its entire gas output is consumed domestically. The state-owned Saudi Aramco is responsible for gas production in the country. The company has partnered with foreign companies such as Lukoil, Sinopec, Eni and Respol for exploring non-associated onshore gas resources especially in Rub al-Khali, the world's largest sand desert.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the seventh biggest gas reserves in the world. The country's proven natural gas reserves as of December 2012 were estimated at 215.1Tcf. Despite the vast gas reserves the country imports natural gas, primarily from Qatar. The UAE imported 616 billion cubic feet of gas in 2011. Around 30% of UAE's gas output is re-injected into oil fields. The power sector of the country too uses natural gas as a major feedstock.
About 94% of the country's proven natural gas reserves are located in Abu Dhabi. Sharjah and Dubai account for four percent and 1.5% of UAE's total gas reserves respectively. The development and processing of the UAE's gas reserves are economically challenging as most of the country's natural gas has relatively high sulphur content.
The UAE's gross natural gas production in 2012 stood at 3Tcf. Individual emirates manage gas production in their respective territories. ADNOC, through its subsidiaries ADCO and ADMA-OPCO, carries out exploration and production of gas resources in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Gas Industries (GASCO), a joint venture between ADNOC, Shell, Total and Partex, is responsible for processing onshore natural gas in the country. Abu Dhabi Gas Liquefaction (ADGAS) manages the production and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Venezuela, the world's biggest oil reserves holding country, possesses the eighth largest gas reserve. The proven natural gas reserves of the country were estimated at 195Tcf as of December 2012. Associated gas accounts for nearly 90% of Venezuela's natural gas reserves. The country plans to increase its natural gas production up to 14 billion cubic feet per day by 2015.
The existing onshore fields such as Anaco, Barrancas and Yucal Place are being developed for increased gas production. Plataforma Deltana, Marsical Sucre and Blanquilla-Tortuga areas off the north-east coast of Venezuela, and the gas blocks in the Gulf of Venezuela in the north-western part of the country are being developed with involvement of foreign companies including Total, Statoil, Chevron and Gazprom.
The country produced 1.137Tcf of natural gas in 2012. A large share of the country's gas output is re-injected into the oil fields for better crude oil extraction. Venezuela currently imports gas from Colombia and the US in order to meet its growing industrial demand.
Nigeria holds the ninth largest gas reserves in the world. The largest oil producing African country was estimated to contain 182Tcf of proven natural gas reserves as of December 2012. Most of natural gas reserves of the country are located in the Niger Delta. Nigeria produced 1.525Tcf of natural gas in 2012.
Amenam-Kpono, Bonga and Akpo are the major oil and gas fields located in Niger Delta. Gbaran-Ubie, one of the latest integrated oil and gas projects in the country, achieved peak production of one billion cubic feet per day in 2011. Much of the country's natural gas is flared since most of the oil fields lack the infrastructure to produce and market associated natural gas.
Shell is the leading gas producer in the country. It's Soku gas-gathering and condensate plant provides nearly half of the feed gas to the only LNG facility of Nigeria. Total, Eni and Chevron are among the other major foreign companies involved in Nigerian gas production. The Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), is responsible for the marketing, transmission and distribution of gas. Most of Nigeria's marketed natural gas is exported as LNG.
Algeria's gas reserves rank as the tenth biggest in the world. It is also the largest gas producing country in Africa. The proven natural gas reserves of the country were estimated at 159.1Tcf as of December 2012. Algeria's gas production has, however, declined in the recent years with the depletion of some of its mature gas fields.
More than half of Algeria's proven natural gas reserves are contained in the country's largest gas field, Hassi R'Mel. Associated and non-associated fields in the south and south-east regions of the country comprise the remaining gas reserves of the country. Rhourde Nouss, Alrar and Hamra are among the other largest mature gas fields in the country.
The country produced 2.875Tcf of natural gas in 2012. Sonatrach is the leading gas producing company in the country. Other companies involved in gas production in Algeria include Eni, BP, Repsol, GDF Suez and the BG Group. A host of new gas projects including Gassi Touil, In Salah Expansion, Reggane Nord, Timimoun and Touat are under development in the country. Menzel Ledjimet East (MLE), which commenced production in 2013, is the latest gas project to be developed in the country.
Six of the world's top 10 oil and gas companies are state-owned. Saudi Aramco is the world's biggest, both in terms of production and reserves, while US-based ExxonMobil is the largest among publicly traded oil and gas companies.
The majority of world's 10 largest refineries are situated in the Asia Pacific region, with India hosting the world's largest refinery complex, followed by Venezuela and South Korea.