Last week I had the opportunity to attend and participate in the 25th World Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This industry gathering, which convenes every three years, chose to use its 2012 meeting to focus on on the role of natural gas in sustaining future global growth. The theme of the conference is certainly appropriate, because at no other time has natural gas been poised to play a more significant role in the global energy picture. In fact, the current natural gas revolution is the most important energy development in decades.
During the past 10 years, the natural gas industry has developed and perfected the technology needed to tap into natural gas resources previously assumed to be too difficult or costly to reach. Through continued innovation and technological advancements in natural gas development, a key topic of conversation at the conference last week, we have the ability to push the future of energy in a cleaner, more sustainable direction.
Today, more than ever, energy powers human civilization. At the same time, the world needs to mitigate the threat of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As populations continue to grow, natural gas can provide a cleaner energy solution for power generation than other energy resources. For example, natural gas fired power plants have significantly lower emissions, giving off between 40 and 60 percent less C0? than coal-fired power plants. Natural gas is also a cleaner-burning ally to renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, because natural gas-powered generators can be switched on much more quickly than other power sources when wind and sun are limited.
In addition to utilizing natural gas for power generation, it is important to find other ways to gain value from this abundant resource. Cleaner-burning liquid natural gas (LNG) for transportation is a great example. Natural gas can provide a cleaner source of power for the world’s small but growing fleet of electric vehicles and there is growing momentum and excitement about the potential of LNG in heavy vehicles, such as trucks, ships barges and trains.
To meet the rising global demand for energy in the decades to come, the world must expand all available sources of energy. Last week at the World Gas Conference further solidified my belief that the natural gas revolution offers the best, most promising opportunity we have today to make substantial, immediate progress toward a more sustainable global energy supply. With continued innovation and further advancements in technology, I’m confident natural gas will continue to play an increasingly important role in the sustainable global energy mix.
Peter Voser is CEO of Royal Dutch Shell. Last week at the World Gas Conference, Voser gave a keynote address on the role of natural gas in sustaining future global growth. To learn more about Shell’s natural gas innovation and development, visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter at @Shell_NatGas.