While oil resources are declining and countries are seeking to diversify their energy supply, there are large reserves of natural gas and an increasing number of uses to which it can be put. The future for gas therefore looks bright, argues Yves Mathieu in an article for ‘Energies‘ magazine, a publication of the major French oil company Total.
The gradual decline in natural gas reserves in OECD countries, a growing demand for more environmentally-friendly energy and a wide range of technological breakthroughs have opened up a huge number of transport – and consequently selling – options for natural gas, claims the author. Demand became strong enough to generate the necessary investment finance to make use of some significant reserves.
There is currently no global gas market as there is for oil, but three separate markets – North America, Western Europe and Asia – notes the paper. However, numerous countries – including Asian countries, Africa and Latin America – are increasingly switching to gas due to environmental concerns and a desire to diversify their energy supplies.
Gas exploration is a much more recent phenomenon than oil exploration and therefore opens up the prospect of new discoveries, observes Mathieu. In particular, deep gas and non-convential gas sources will provide new opportunities, he claims.
Moreover, non-conventional gas can have a positive environmental impact because its recovery can be improved by injecting CO2 into lower levels, claims the author – thus also providing a carbon sequestration solution. As a result, half of the development projects in North America over the next ten to twenty years could be targeted towards the production of non-conventional gas resources, the paper says.
There have finally been sufficient advances in the fields of gas transport to suggest that gas is a viable substitute for oil, concludes Mathieu.
The liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry has developed more efficient processes that have lowered liquefaction costs and as a result, the transformation of natural gas into oil products is expected to prompt a new gas development sector – with prospects for the huge motor fuel market, concludes the author.