Natural Gas Markets

Most markets which had a well-developed city gas infrastructure distributing manufactured gas have already changed to natural gas for the feedstock, except China, which is now in the process of doing so. Distribution infrastructure is extremely expensive and accounts for the majority of costs for transferring gas from the well-head to the final consumer. According to the IEA, in a country which lacks indigenous reserves, distribution infrastructure investment can be as much as 80% of that of the entire supply chain.

Another important development is a move from LPG to natural gas in some markets, although there are wide variations in the speed at which this is happening. LPG remains an important energy source in areas outside the reach of the gas grid but the tendency has been to change from LPG to piped city / natural gas, with several important exceptions.

In Japan, the residential gas market is divided almost equally between piped gas and LPG cylinder gas. The piped gas sector has converted almost entirely from manufactured city gas to natural gas, but LPG remains a well-established and well-serviced business, although it is declining slowly.
In Mexico, there have been programmes to change residential use of LPG in cylinders (82% of urban households) to piped natural gas but the LPG industry has resisted this quite strongly. The change has been behind target and although it will come, there is still a high usage of LPG delivered in cylinders. As this move accelerates in the future, there will be increasing demand for new gas meters in Mexico.

An alternative form of delivery of either natural gas or LPG is bulk storage without pipelines. The gas is delivered by tanker to a central storage facility, from which multiple users, apartments or commercial offices, draw their supply. They are metered in exactly the same way as if the gas were delivered by pipeline.