Today’s low oil prices have already had a significant impact on much of the global energy landscape—including the U.S. natural-gas market. How will the U.S. market react if oil prices remain low for an extended period?
Let’s start with demand. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that domestic demand for natural gas would reach 770 billion cubic meters in 2020, up significantly from 690 billion cubic meters in 2014. This projection, however, was issued in early 2014—before oil prices began their descent—and assumed demand growth across all major segments. Given that oil prices have been roughly halved since mid-2014, however, some of those assumptions—specifically for exports and transportation—must be revisited.
Look first at exports. The EIA projected that U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas would exceed 70 billion cubic meters in 2020, propelled by the price competitiveness of U.S. supplies in the global arena. But the fall in oil prices undermines that assumption.