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AIEN International Energy Summit underlines critical role of gas

The panel addressed the role of gas in the energy transition. (Image source: AIEN International Energy Summit)

Exploration & Production

A panel session at the AIEN International Energy Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, focused on the role of gas in the energy transition, looking at how natural gas, particularly LNG, impacts the security, affordability and sustainability of a robust energy future

Moderator Edward Taylor, partner, A&O Shearman asked the question, is natural gas still relevant to the energy evolution?

Andrew Kirk, vice president Origination, LNG, B Grimm said it will continue to play a big role. “The issue with renewables capacity and their intermittent nature means we will continue to need natural gas. New technologies such as batteries are still a long way off from being able to supply a full grid load. Renewables are also geographically bespoke and not available to all. They can provide solutions in areas with limited demand but the cost to run a city like Bangkok is so problematic. Many countries will not be able to cope with the cost increase of moving straight to renewables.”

Steve Morrell, senior vice president, ExxonMobil PNG LNG, agreed. “The conversation about gas has never been more pertinent. Whether we are talking about emissions, the war in Ukraine, or living standards around the world – gas has its part to play. There are also so many conversations about the rise of Artificial Intelligence. But where is the power coming from to feed these data centres that will play such a large part?"

Accelerating the energy transition

“Gas can accelerate the energy transition today. We can stop coal today. We can fill the gaps in intermittent renewables today. So, what is holding us back?”

“We are far enough along the energy transition to separate the aspirational and the unachievable,” said Kirk. “We are hearing these ideological positions where gas is considered unnecessary without having a sensible conversation about alternatives. Moving straight to renewables will create very unstable energy grids that will stifle economic growth.”

With the global population set to grow by 2bn by 2050, Morrell believes the responsibility will grow even higher on the energy companies to provide affordable, reliable and sustainable energy, and natural gas will play a large role in this.

“Gas is well understood and relatively cleaner compared with coal. The infrastructure is there and expanding. There is a lot to be said for the marriage between gas and intermittent renewables. Moving from a well-known system to new technology – it isn’t going to happen overnight. We could put more gas into the system. This will help see a 60% reduction in emissions if we replace coal, without even using new technologies.”

“One of the main problems is how to fill the gaps from renewables,” Kirk concluded. “The answer is gas. The stage is set for a reasoned conversation about gas.”