Worldwide energy consumption is expected to grow by 60% over the next two decades, according to the reference case projection recently released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its annual forecast of international energy demand.

The International Energy Outlook 2002 (IEO2002) expects much of the growth to occur in the developing world, with the regions of developing Asia (including China, India, and South Korea) and Central and South America leading the way as their consuming patterns increasingly resemble those of the industrialized world.

Energy markets were influenced by a host of developments in 2001. High world oil prices persisted from 2000 into the first half of 2001 and then weakened substantially in the third quarter of the year. The markets also were affected by the global economic slowdown, led by a mild economic turndown in the United States and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11.

Natural gas remains the fastest growing component of primary world energy consumption. Over the IEO2002 forecast period, gas use is projected to nearly double in the reference case, reaching 162 trillion cubic feet in 2020. The natural gas share of total energy consumption is projected to increase from 23% in 1999 to 28% in 2020, and natural gas is expected to account for the largest increment in electricity generation (accounting for 43% of the total additional energy used for electricity generation). Much of the projected growth in natural gas consumption is in response to rising demand for natural gas to fuel efficient new gas turbine power plants.