A new report published by the Energy Institute (EI) reveals the attitudes of global oil and gas professionals towards reducing the climate change impacts of natural gas.
As the energy sector's independent professional body, the EI is working to address the realities of the energy system as it shifts to low carbon.
While much of the debate about cleaning up gas has focused on the technologies required, the EI report finds lack of awareness could also be holding back progress.
Speaking at International Petroleum (IP) Week, EI president Malcolm Brinded, said: "There's an elephant in the room of the global energy system and it's called natural gas. It looks like a golden age for gas, with unconventional production soaring and global LNG trade forecast to more than double by 2040. But at the same time the world has committed to keeping temperature increases within 2°C, requiring net zero emissions in the second half of this century.
"Even natural gas's cleaner-than-coal and friend-to-renewables advantages will not be enough to square this circle. For it to fulfil its potential long-term role in the low carbon world, more must be done to clean up how it is produced and how it is burned.
"The EI report's findings are a call for action across the industry. Just as health and safety are embedded in operating cultures, tackling climate change in all ways needs to become equally - and profoundly - part of business-as-usual. It must enter all our DNA."
Key findings of the report:
- Most respondents to the survey are confident about the role of natural gas through to 2050. They also take a largely positive view of the potential to tackle carbon emissions from combustion, believing CCS offers the greatest potential of any technology to reduce emissions in the natural gas lifecycle. Nine out of ten believe industry has a role to play in developing and implementing CCS.
- But on methane leakage during production, too many professionals underestimate the significance of fugitive emissions, and the possibilities for reducing them cost effectively. Two thirds expressed surprise at the extent of the problem and these possibilities within their own operations.
- Natural gas is an abundant and flexible fuel. It contributes to reducing climate change impacts when it displaces coal in power generation and heating, with some 40% less CO2 emitted. Gas also significantly reduces local air pollution from small particulates and from sulphur dioxide, relative to coal burning and also relative to diesel fuels in transport. Nevertheless methane is emitted during the production of gas. Methane as a greenhouse gas is 28-36 times more potent than CO2 over 100 years. The International Energy Agenda (IEA), in its World Energy Outlook 2017, has assessed that much more could technically be done during production and distribution of natural gas to reduce leakage of methane. It found that it is possible to avoid 75% of current methane emissions in the natural gas supply chain, and that 40-50% of these emissions could be avoided at no net cost.
You can download the full report here.