Re-launching Gastech News

Comments: 0

In the 40 years that Gastech has been in existence, natural gas has grown to become one of the world’s most important sources of energy. There are many who believe that gas will be the most important source of energy over the rest of this century.

The “Are we entering a Golden Age of Gas?” report published by the International Energy Agency two years ago has done much to convince a sometimes sceptical world that natural gas has a crucial role to play in mitigating carbon dioxide emissions whilst helping to meet the world’s need for energy.

More recently, in February of this year, Shell published its latest scenarios, setting out two credible trajectories for global energy development to the end of this century.

Mountains and Oceans: Shell’s “Mountains” scenario depicts a world in which “tight/shale gas and coal-bed methane enjoy widespread success and grow to form a ‘gas backbone’ to the global energy system”. This and the incentivisation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) “contribute to greenhouse gas emissions reducing rapidly after 2030”. In the alternative “Oceans” scenario, total carbon dioxide emissions are higher . . . “which will likely have more impact on the world’s climate”.

In a world of many uncertainties, we can be reasonably sure that the world’s population will continue to grow, that people will continue to aspire to improve their lot, and that energy demand will continue to rise. That is what all the forecasters tell us. Satisfying that demand in a sustainable way will be a continuing challenge.

Why natural gas? The advantages of natural gas are many, but the main ones are a matter of elementary chemistry and physics. Gas contains twice as much hydrogen as oil, while coal contains little, if any. And when gas is burned, its hydrogen combines with oxygen to form harmless water vapour. Natural gas is as close as we can get to a hydrogen economy before leaving that final atom of carbon behind.

The detractors argue that that single carbon atom means we should leave natural gas behind in favour of wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources. But, as the European Union (EU) is finding to its cost, that is easier said than done.

Today, carbon emissions in the US, where climate policy is virtually absent, have fallen sharply, while those in the EU, where climate policy has become an obsession, have fallen by much less than expected and could start to rise. Despite all the interventions in Europe to promote renewable energy, coal consumption is rising at the expense of natural gas. Why? Because cheap and plentiful gas in the US has displaced coal from electricity generation and that coal is finding its way to Europe. Market forces at work.

Economic renaissance: Abundant and therefore affordable natural gas has led to an economic renaissance in the United States, while Europe remains in the doldrums and Japan is struggling with higher-than-usual energy costs because of its nuclear crisis and because most of the gas it buys is priced on the basis of oil prices.

As natural gas has grown in importance over the past four decades, the Gastech conference and exhibition have grown with it. Among the regular attendees are many of the influential decision-makers on whose shoulders the future of the industry rests. In the months since the last Gastech took place in London, in October 2012, we have looked long and hard at how we might better serve this community.

An early conclusion was that the community could benefit from a re-vamped Gastech News that provides analysis of significant trends, and a forum for contributions from the Gastech community in the intervening times between the conferences and exhibitions.

So welcome to a new-look Gastech News. In this first issue you can read about:

We also have an exclusive in-depth interview with the General Manager of SIGTTO, Captain Andrew Clifton.

We hope that Gastech News will indeed become a forum for the exchange of ideas between members of the Gastech community on an ongoing basis. We look forward to your feedback. If you have something to say that you feel the community would like to hear, please get in touch.