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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

1 - What Is the Mission of the Natural Gas Industry and How Can It Be Successfully Completed?


There is a strong consensus among energy experts that the transformation of the global energy mix will eventually boost the importance of NG among fossil fuels as the crucial fuel source in the global effort to shift toward lesspolluting forms of energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its Stated Policies Scenario projects NG as the fastest-growing carbon fuel, overtaking coal by 2030 to become the world's second-largest source of energy after oil. Gas consumption of 4,445 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe) will be almost 36 percent higher in 2040 than today. Coal consumption is expected to decrease to 21 percent of the world carbon fuel mix by 2040, down from 27 percent in 2018, while oil will decrease to 28 percent from 31 percent. These estimates are consistent with the view of leading international consultancies like BCG and Wood Mackenzie. Many oil majors, both international oil companies (OICs) and national oil companies (NOCs), share the same view on the future of NG as offering the best long-term demand growth potential among carbon fuels. BP, for example, is even more optimistic than the IEA. Its experts believe that gas will overtake coal in the early 2030s and then overtake oil as the world's primary energy source around 2040.

Some of the oil majors have already announced plans for boosting the proportion of NG within their energy output portfolio as illustrated by the following:

  • Shell's acquisition of the BG Group in 2016 for more than 50 billion dollars was primarily a purchase of gas assets.

  • Total's current production is already a near 50– 50 split between oil and gas.

  • Rosneft, the Russian oil major, has announced plans to prioritize the development of gas over the oil business.

  • Qatar has withdrawn its membership from the Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) in order to concentrate on developing its natural gas sector.

  • Saudi Aramco's gas program is targeting an output increase of 64 percent over the next 10 years.

It is important to ask if there is a solid basis for these predictions that would justify believing in such an enhanced role for NG in the global fossil fuel mix.