The natural gas industry has been plagued by low prices on the back of massive supplies from mega-projects coming online and low oil prices, but there may well be not enough output to meet growing demand in the longer term, industry executives said Tuesday.
“The industry needs extra supply by the middle of 2022, 2023,” said Jordan Cove LNG president, Elizabeth Spomer.
Current low prices and supply surplus sparks a cycle of slowing production amid growing demand, which will contribute to a future output deficit, she pointed out.
U.S. natural gas prices priced at the benchmark Henry Hub are around $3.15 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), 11 percent lower from a year ago.
Spot prices in Asia for liquefied natural gas (LNG) are above $5 per mmBtu currently and trend higher during winter demand, drawing shipment from the U.S. among other markets. However, Asian buyers have previously preferred longer-term contracts for supply security.
That is the case as well with demand up and coming in China where there is a government push to replace coal-fired plants with cleaner gas-powered electricity plants so as to curb air pollution.
Big buyers are also emerging from the Middle East, Pakistan and Bangladesh will soak up production from projects coming online in Australia and the U.S., said Spomer who was speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of the Gastech conference in the Japanese city of Chiba.
“It takes a while to build these things,” she added.
Meanwhile, there will still be “too much gas around” for the next five to six years although the over supply will not last forever, said Wood Mackenzie chairman and chief analyst, Simon Flowers, at the same event.
Prices will likely stay under pressure, at last until 2018 as oil gas prices—which gas prices are now tied to—stay at low levels, he added.
The long-term prospect however presents “enormous growth potential” with the global trend of decarbonization, he added.
“Gas is a fossil fuel but it’s in the best place of the fossil fuel if you compare to coal and oil,” Flowers added.
The house expects gas demand to growth 40 percent in the next 20 years, China becoming an increasingly important project. There will be a fight to be the next big project, he said.
“(The current price) isn’t enough to stimulate big, new projects that are going to be needed. The question is how to finance new projects needed to meet the next decade’s needs,” said Flowers.
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