China will continue to be a major market for Middle East gas exports over the next decade, as it faces challenges to develop a domestic shale gas industry, according to Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) secretary-general Mohammad Hossein Adeli.

Speaking at the Energy Markets Forum in Fujairah, UAE, on 23 September, Adeli was sceptical about China’s capability to replicate the unconventional gas boom in North America.

“China will not be able to be a player in shale gas before 2030… it has access to Russia and LNG [liquefied natural gas] imports, and has lots of problems replicating US technology,” he said.

“The locations are very difficult to extract and there is a lack of enough water there. They have started [producing shale gas], but it is so minimal that it can’t meet demand.”

Adeli said he is “optimistic to a certain extent” about Iran becoming a major gas exporter, as Tehran continues its political rapprochement with the US and other world powers.

“At this juncture, the world needs Iranian gas. It is going to be a game-changer,” he said. 

The GECF’s members together control about 67 per cent of the world’s gas reserves and represent the majority of the world’s LNG exports.