While global natural gas production slowed in 2013 the Middle East saw natural gas output increase at a faster rate than any other region – aided by a 5.4 per cent increase in production in Qatar, the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter.

Total natural gas produced in the Middle East came in at 568.2 billion cubic metres, 4.5 per cent more than the previous year, according to the latest annual review of world energy conducted by UK oil company BP.

The report found that on a global level, natural gas production grew by a mere 1.1 per cent, well below the 10-year average of 2.5 per cent.

Qatar, home to the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves, saw the Middle East’s biggest jump. It increased production by 7.7 billion cubic metres to 158.5 billion cubic metres. Qatar boosted LNG exports by 2.7 per cent in 2013 and supplied 32 per cent of global exports.

Iran is the holder of the world’s largest natural gas reserves with 1,192 trillion cubic metres of proven reserves. It saw its production increase by 0.8 per cent to 166.6 billion cubic metres as it struggled with economic sanctions and increasingly inefficient, ageing infrastructure.

The growth in Middle East gas production was enough to prevent gas shortages in some countries as consumption accelerated.

The UAE consumed 68.3 billion cubic metres of natural gas in 2013, far more than the 56 billion that it produced.

Kuwait also saw a shortfall, with consumption exceeding production by 2.2 billion cubic metres. Due to the increasing demand for electricity, Oil Minister Ali al-Omair announced in June this year that it is seeking imports from Iran.

Iran, the world’s third-biggest gas consumer, used 97 per cent of the gas it produced in 2013 domestically. Saudi Arabia consumed 103 billion cubic metres of gas – exactly the same amount as it produced.

Algeria, Africa’s biggest natural gas producer, saw production slide by 3.3 per cent to 78.6 billion cubic metres last year as it struggled to win back confidence from energy companies in the wake of the Amenas gas plant hostage crisis – which saw 39 foreign workers killed.

Other North African nations also saw declines in production amid political instability and fallout from the Arab Uprisings. Egypt’s output dropped by 7.7 per cent to 56.1 billion cubic metres.

In Libya increasing violence and the hijacking of hydrocarbon infrastructure by rebel groups meant that gas production also dropped – falling 1.5 pe rcent to 12 billion cubic metres.