The heads of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies gathered in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the global energy scene and were unanimous that the use of coal would diminish as nations looked for solutions to their emissions problems.
Royal Dutch Shell chief executive officer Peter Voser said that his company would produce more natural gas for the world market this year than oil, their traditional energy commodity.
“At no time in the history of our industry has natural gas been poised to play a more important role in the global energy picture,” he said.
Voser talked about the replacement of the reliance on coal in some countries and ExxonMobile chief Rex Tillerson agreed.
“Gas will play an increasingly important role and is expected to overtake coal as the largest contributor to global energy needs after oil by 2025,” he said.
The tenor of the speeches and the panel discussions during the week centered on the attributes of gas, in terms of base load, peaking power, the fact that it was the cleanest burning fossil fuel and the growing energy demand as the global population increases.
Executive vice president upstream and gas for Chevron George Kirkland pointed out that natural gas emits 44% less carbon dioxide and 29% less than oil and gas was only in its early maturity as an energy source.
RasGas managing director Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi was a little less subtle.
He called for Europe to ditch “dirty coal", and encourage the use of gas.
“Despite the recent support for gas from European policy makers, one issue has become increasingly evident. Gas in being pushed out of the generation mix in favor of coal,” he said.
“If Europe really wants to walk the walk and deliver a sustainable and efficient low-carbon system, policy makers must be sure that companies are sufficiently incentivized to use low carbon forms of electricity generation. Coal is a dirty fuel which should be consigned to Europe’s past.”
Al Mohannadi said with coal and European carbon emission permit prices slumping in recent months, gas prices have increased, making it the most expensive fuel for power generation, while coal prices have dropped as US producers start exporting and China curbs its imports.
However, while world gas leaders agreed gas would increase its share of the global energy market in the next 20 years, coal will retain a significant share of the market.
On the final day Total chief executive officer Christophe de Margerie told delegates while oil and coal consumption would increase slightly over the next 20 years, gas would be the second biggest energy source by 2030.
“Fossil fuels will be 76 per cent of the energy mix,” he said. “It is now 82 per cent.”