PARIS (Reuters) - Global demand for gas is set to rise constantly over the next 20 years amid plentiful reserves and its increasing use to produce power, a senior executive at Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) said on Thursday.
"We see global gas demand growing by at least 2 percent a year over some decades, so by 2030 we look at gas demand hitting 4.5 trillion cubic meters of gas per year," Malcom Brinded told an oil conference. "That's 50 percent up from today's level."
Brinded was equally bullish on prospects for liquefied natural gas, which he saw growing "a lot faster" than overall gas demand, driven by China's economic growth and higher demand in Europe and countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Pakistan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
"Despite the difficult market we've had in the last year in the recession, we... expect global LNG demand to double this decade," said Brinded, who expects China's gas demand to "double or treble" by 2020 from around 100 billion cubic meters today.
This boom in LNG demand will need to be matched by a similarly rapid increase in supply, which is currently growing by at least 6 to 8 percent a year, he said.
Brinded said he was confident this was possible.
"There is enough gas around, this is increasingly clear," he said, citing data from the International Energy Agency showing recoverable gas reserves worth 250 years of current production.
Some $5 trillion (3.24 trillion pounds) would be needed over the next 20 years -- or $20 billion per year -- to extract this gas.
"These figures are staggering," he said. "The gas is there, it is going to take investments and it needs a lot of new technology... This is truly an energy revolution." "People are looking for certainty around three key issues: availability, affordability and environmental acceptability of gas. I think gas wins on all points."
Reporting by Muriel Boselli, Emma Farge and Marie Maitre; Editing by Michael Hogan