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Don't underestimate the role of gas

By Tom Nicholls

The vital role natural gas can play in the energy mix is poorly understood and the industry must make a more concerted effort to get its message across to policymakers and other stakeholders, says Datuk Rahim Hashim, incoming president of the International Gas Union (IGU).

Malaysia, the second Asian country to hold the IGU presidency, will take over from Argentina at the end of this week's conference; during its triennium – which will come to a climax at the 25th WGC, in Kuala Lumpur, in 2012 – the IGU will focus on sustainability and promoting gas as a sustainable long-term energy source.

"Gas is environmentally friendly, the lowest-carbon fossil fuel and it's plentiful," said Hashim, who is also head of the Malaysian Gas Association. "The question is how to convince policymakers of the role it can play in lowering carbon emissions."

Natural gas accounts for 21% of primary energy use and could reach 28% by 2030 if the right policies are put in place, says the IGU.

While renewables and other energy solutions, such as hydrogen energy and nuclear power, may play a growing role, gas' potential contribution over the long term tends to be overlooked, he said.

"Gas can last more than 100 years and has an important role to play in lowering carbon emissions, but it is almost taken for granted. Everything's about renewables, but renewables will not be 100% of the solution," said Hashim.

Under Malaysia's presidency, the IGU will also focus on the sustainability of human resources and encouraging interest in the industry among young people.

Hashim also played down the significance of low gas prices for the business' long-term prospects. "The market goes in cycles," he told WGC News. "In this industry, you have to be a long-term player. The good thing is that the sector will be ready for an upturn in demand."

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