Natural Gas and the Energy Future

June 30, 2018

The below from Mark Green, blog writer at American Petroleum Institute. 

Closing day at WGC2018. I attended great panels on the innovation that will carry the natural gas industry into the foreseeable future and one on the “game-changers” looming ahead for industry.

Big takeaways:

  • Natural gas is the linchpin for a clean energy future – from its own clean attributes and by partnering with intermittent energy technologies such as wind and solar. 
  • America’s energy abundance, seen especially in record production of natural gas, is critically important to U.S. energy and economic security. 
  • Technology and innovation, which already play a big role in today’s natural gas and oil production, will drive greater efficiencies and productivity in the years ahead.

Cleaner, Thanks to Natural Gas

As noted in this post, natural gas as they key to energy security and environmental progress was top of mind at the conference all week. Reducing methane emissions from natural gas production has and is occurring – down 14 percent since 1990 – and industry initiatives such as The Environmental Partnership are pledged to extend that progress going forward.

Natural gas itself is helping make the air cleaner – it’s the leading reason U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest levels in 25 years. The Environmental Defense Fund’s Fred Krupp:

“Natural gas has already helped clean the air. Natural gas has the potential to also help lower greenhouse gas emissions. We’re excited about the possibility of data and technology (helping) to accelerate natural gas becoming cleaner and living up to its promise (of helping address climate issues).” 

Natural gas already is living up to its “brand promise,” as Krupp put it. Companies are highly motivated to capture as much methane as possible for delivery to customers. Here's a response from EQT Corporation’s Rob McNally: 

"We do our best to measure methane releases, and in the last report in 2017 we’re now down to .28 of a percent, so about one-quarter of 1 percent of the gas we produce we think we lose. Five years ago, that number was about triple that. In that time we’ve replaced over 550 pneumatic valves and we’ve really ramped up the monitoring program, using some of the technologies that people have mentioned – satellite technology, drilling technologies – and have spent real time and money fixing pipes and fixing valves, which is the biggest issue for us. We fully agree that as an industry we need to live up to that reputation.”  

Renewables’ Partner We heard all week that calling natural gas a “bridge fuel” misses the importance of natural gas now and in the future. (So don’t call it that.) API’s Marty Durbin and others stressed that abundant, affordable natural gas is “foundational” for the world’s energy future – because of its unique attributes as a fuel for generating electricity, as well as its uses to manufacture products people depend on in their modern lives. Rice University’s Ken Medlock called natural gas a “destination” energy source – although that opens a new discussion about where that destination is and whether, by the time you arrive, there’ll be another destination on the horizon. What’s clear is that natural gas has an extremely important role to play alongside renewable energy...

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