Hopefully never - he said selfishly. I don't and would never play this type of game MP, and any time spent designing, developing, or supporting MP would take away from the SP game, something I'd never want to see happen.
I see quite a few comments like this when bringing up a multiplayer option. I can understand the position of staunchly standing by keeping the game only single player. It does help focus the development. But I think employing some type of multiplayer would add to the playerbase.
Likely though, the game would have to alter its play to being a series of steps in each turn, where several phases are completed simultaneously. You have a build phase, an economic phase, a diplomacy phase, and finally a ship order phase. And very likely, that would involve giving orders to ships (patrol this area, engage highest number of ships in range, etc) by having that done simultaneously for all the players. I think this could be done, but the game would change pretty dramatically. Right now it is pretty easy paced where a player can see the outcome of a fleet battle, and then adjust his tactics for that turn. In a multiplayer game, likely you would have to commit to several plans of action and hope for the best.
I think it would fall under another version of Galciv, but hopefully they will look into tweaking with the game to give it some multiplayer functionality or create a variant form of the game. I'd love a hot seat or email turn-based game (Battlefront's Combat Mission series is a great example). Hopefully after the next expansion they might look into putting out a multiplayer variant of the game.