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The 2017 pipeline: What will shape gas and LNG?

Written by Heidi Stancliffe and Kathryn Bond, Editors-in-Chief, Flame 

One of the most important things we do each year is put together the agenda for Flame, Europe’s leading natural gas and LNG conference. Because the agenda is released in January ready for the event in spring – 8-11 May at Hotel Okura, Amsterdam, to be exact – it sets the scene for the gas industry’s year to come. We spend a lot of time thinking about what the biggest stories in the world of gas will be, and try to structure the agenda around them.

Here are four of the biggest themes that we think will shape gas and LNG in 2017.

Big story #1: Forget Security of Supply; it’s all about Security of Demand

For years the gas industry has fixated on supply. However, with global gas production on an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future, the number one driver of feast or famine in the midstream business will be demand.

We think that 2017 is the year that the European midstream industry focuses just as much on new, demand-side drivers, such as global economic development, decarbonisation and new technology, as traditional supply-side geopolitics.

Our agenda is designed to help gas executives understand demand in the broadest context. Topics include:

  • Around The World: Updates on gas demand from China, Japan, Pakistan, S./W. Africa and more (Tues 9 May, 16.30)
  • Fighting Gas’ Corner: What can guarantee a bright future for gas? A fresh look at gas advocacy with Eurogas, GasNaturally, politicians and consumers (Tues 9 May, 10.20)
  • Academic analysis of the decarbonisation agenda from Prof. Jonathan Stern, Prof. Cameron Hepburn and Prof. Dieter Helm (Weds 10 May, 09.10 and 09.30) 
  • Technological briefings on CCSheating and energy efficiency and assessments of the potential of transport and other new sources of gas demand (LNG Summit and Weds 10 May, Stream B). Will demand creation outbalance demand destruction?

Big story #2: U.S. LNG is coming … but Russia will fight on price

All the talk last year was of an LNG wave. It hasn’t broken yet, but we think that the global supply glut has been deferred rather than averted. In fact, if demand doesn’t increase to absorb new supply (see theme #1), we think that competing supplies to Europe coupled with traditional suppliers’ determination to keep market share could all put further downward pressure on prices.

We plan to arm producers and off-takers with the knowledge to rebalance their portfolios and succeed in a world of excess supply with sessions like:

  • Updates from LNG projects in Asia, N. America and Africa looking for markets (LNG Summit)
  • Hear Gazprom Export’s strategy on market share and pricing (Pricing Forum)
  • Regional views from Norway, the North Sea, UkraineC./E./S.E. Europe, Turkey, Cyprus and Iran (Tues 9 May, Stream A; Weds 10 May, Stream A and Stream D; Thurs 11 May, PM)

Big story #3: New regulation for a New Normal?

This plays off themes #1 and #2, but we think that 2017 is the year when changing patterns in gas demand will be felt in Europe’s gas infrastructure sector. As volumes fall and costs rise, we further think there could be knock ons for flexibility, pricing and liquidity, meaning that voices calling for a fresh look at regulation will only get louder. There is no “right way” of ensuring market access, but we’ve got a wide array of experts ready to offer alternative views, including:

  • A deep dive on storage and transportation (Weds 10 May, Stream C, 16.00 and 16.30)
  • Realities Of European Liberalisation: Regulation, codes etc. (Tues 9 May, Stream D)
  • Electricity Market Redesign: What does it mean for gas? (Weds 10 May, 17.00)
  • Updates on the pipeline and interconnector projects opening up European markets (Thurs 11 May, 11.40)

Big story #4: Crunch time for the Energy Union

The industry has been working towards integrated gas markets for more than a decade, but Europe’s geopolitical plates are shifting. From global game-changers such as Brexit, to growing nationalism in many parts of Europe, we think that 2017 could be make or break time for the ambition of Energy Union. We’ll be exploring the future of integrated gas markets in these three interesting ways:

  • Brexit and President Trump with Eurasia Group’s Divya Reddy (Tues 9 May, 09.30)
  • The European Commission’s Klaus-Dieter Borchardt on the Energy Security Strategy (Thurs 11 May, 10.10)
  • The future of the Energy Union and projects of common interest with policy makers, regulators and associations (Thurs 11 May, 11.10 and 12.50)

The European Commission? We thought that would catch your eye.

You can see all our speakers here as well as check out a detailed agenda on our website. Don’t miss our new Gas In Transition Workshop on Monday 8 May.

This is going to be one of the most important Flames in the last decade, so register today.

See you in Amsterdam.