The growth of LNG in the world markets has been hampered by the expense of liquefying, transporting, and regasifying it. But with rising oil prices, the demand by countries to diversify energy sources, and the recent Kyoto Protocol, interest in LNG is increasing. The demand in LNG is creating new technologies, which are bringing down the cost of liquefaction plants, tankers, and regasification plants.
Royal Dutch/Shell recently signed a huge deal with Qatar's state-owned gas company for a 30% stake in a $7 billion project that will produce 7.5 million tons of LNG for the European and U.S. markets beginning in 2010.
ExxonMobil also has a deal with Qatar, which is expected to produce 15.6 million tons of LNG when the $12.8 billion project is completed in 2007. Currently, the U.S. energy consumption is about 1% for LNG, but experts say that could rise to as much as 20% in the next 20 years.
Qatar has the world's third largest natural gas reserves, and wants to become the dominant LNG player. Iran and Russia hold the world's largest LNG fields.