This paper reviews past Japan's natural gas demand by sectors, highlighted in the primary energy supply and final energy consumption during the last few decades and to introduce the latest 1996 outlook on Japanese long-term energy supply/demand forecast up to 2030, which was undertaken by the Advisory Committee for Energy for MITI. According to their interim report issued in December 1996, demand for natural gas energy for Japan shall be increased from 44 million tons of LNG basis (approx., 61 BCM, i.e. billion cubic meters) in 1994, which was 10.8% share of the total primary energy demand of 577 million kiloliters of crude oil equivalent, to 56 Mtons, i. e. million tons with 13% share in 2000 and 63 Mtons with 13 % share in 2010 then up to 68 Mtons with 12% share in 2030 under the current energy conservation measures and new energy introduction plans. Finally the author insists on the necessity of considering possibility of national gas pipelines on Japan island in accordance with future movement of presumable international gas pipeline concepts such as Trans-Asian pipeline and Northeast Asian pipeline in the 21st. century.


Natural gas is quickly moving away from its past image of poor relative of the hydrocarbon family towards much more powerful position in the primary energy resources. Natural gas now occupies about 23% share of world total primary energy supply while its share in Japan is only 11%, why not? To the contrary, crude oil share in Japan is as large as 57% of the total energy demand, compared with 40% level of oil share in the world total average.

In fact, natural gas business in the world started in 1950's much later than oil business that was initiated in the mid of the 19th. century. Therefore, the exploration and the development of natural gas have not been matured yet so that its reserves assessment may be still ambiguous. In another aspect, it is a serious problem that Japan must import more than 80% of the total primary energy demand nevertheless she is the world 4th ranked energy consumer, who exhausts about 6% of the world total energy consumption of 8,136 million tons of oil equivalent per annum.

In recent years, global environment problems such as global warming and acid rain have been discussed extensively in various forums including the United Nations Conference of the Environment and Development (UNCED). In order to prevent from warming the earth by the reduction of CO2 emissions it is essential to work on reforming Japan's energy supply/demand structure because energy is the key factor affecting both economic growth and environment protection. This reform consists of two major elements which are (a) reducing energy consumption needed for given amount of economic activity, in another words efficient use and save of energy, and (b) expanding the use of non-fossil fuel energy such as nuclear energy, hydro power and solar energy etc.

Energy Gases, Why Not?
1. Historical Trend of Primary Energy Consumption

Many past predictions of future energy supply and demand seem to be unreliable during the last several decades. However, the history of energy use demonstrates clear trend and its tempting to extrapolate these into the near future. In 1956, Dr. M. King Hubbert of the U.S. Geological Survey suggested nearly symmetrical growth and decline curves for the discovery rate of reserves and the production rate for any energy resources. A symmetry in growth and decline in primary energy consumption is also suggested in 1988 by Grubler and Nakicenovic et al, members the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) based in Austria. For example, (Fig. 1) shows percentages of consumption shares of individual primary energy sources in the United States, which are plotted on a normal probability density scale on the axis of ordinates versus time on the abscissas. In the beginning of 19th century, wood was only our primary energy source, while secondary energy sources included water power, wind mill power, peat, agricultural waste and animal and human powers. With development of steam power and the expansion of railroads and the steel industry, use of coal increased exponentially until early decades of 20th century. Then crude oil was discovered in 1859 by Drake in Pennsylvania then introduced into the energy market in 1870's.

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