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WGC 2018: gas faces political, environmental risks

Natural gas may be the best solution to emissions goals, but the world needs to be convinced, say industry heads

Speaking at World Gas Conference 2018, a panel including Qatar Petroleum's Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, BP's Bob Dudley and Total's Patrick Pouyanne suggested natural gas could take an even greater stake in energy markets in the years ahead.

But they each tempered their arguments by pointing out that it's equally likely that natural gas could become the temporary, bridging solution between fossil fuels and renewables.

"In the race to reduce emissions, we must make the case for gas to reduce doubt. We need to educate people about its benefits," said Dudley.

If gas is to be chosen over cheaper but less environmentally beneficial energy sources such as coal, said Dudley, gas companies must focus on winning competitive investment and infrastructure arguments, while backing innovation and technology in carbon capture and storage.

"The gas industry faces a pushback", said Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné. "This raises the risk of a huge mistake for the world".

"Natural gas' future is not a given, we must advocate it, take methane into the question. We must take the whole chain into production into consideration, be more cautious, and take it more seriously", added Pouyanné.

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy added that in the political process, there will be a need to convince others that gas is key to a low emissions future, and support is required from the private sector.

Equinor CEO Tor Martin Anfinnsen raised concerns over efficiency and political perceptions.

"Will gas survive as decarbonization takes root? In Europe, greenhouse gases need to come down 95% for the Paris agreements, and the EU is very committed. It is a formidable challenge".

Speakers also highlighted that methane emissions through increased efficiency and technology are a critical emerging battleground. A study released by the Environmental Protection Agency last week showed that methane emissions are far higher than previously estimated.

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