Industry Recognizes Certainty of Climate Change: Looks to Natural Gas

Started March 8, 2017 at 07:32 am by @Skip Peel - Independent Landman in Haynesville Shale

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Skip Peel - Independent Landman
03/08/17 07:32:01AM

Oil and gas industry is waking up to competition from renewables

By Chris Tomlinson  Updated: March 7, 2017 10:31pm

The world's energy demand will continue to grow in the decades ahead, but who will consume it, and in what form, has oil and gas companies scrambling to protect market share.

With all of the chatter about the world relying more on electricity and less on liquid fuels, CEOs of the biggest oil companies are at CERAWeek bragging about their expanded natural gas holdings, recognizing the risks of climate change, identifying new markets and asking for simple regulations that will promote global trade.

Now if only the Republican majority in Congress would pay attention, pass a carbon tax, set common-sense regulations and get with the international program.

"This is going to require common sense at scale for the world to recognize that we are going to need all forms of energy," BP CEO Bob Dudley said. "You can't just turn off oil or coal."

Dudley was also one of many CEOs who declared that the industry needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change in order to stay in business. He chairs the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a group of 10 energy companies that is spending $1 billion to develop ways to reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

Exxon Mobil is not part of the initiative, but CEO Darren Woods also called on political and industry leaders to recognize climate change and embrace a carbon tax.

"A policy fostering transparent, uniform carbon prices that will allow market forces to drive tech solutions, minimize initiative burdens and promote global participation can be effective," he said. "Policies that form subsidies, mandates and trade barriers only hinder progress."

The quickest way to reduce carbon emissions is to switch from burning coal and oil to cleaner natural gas. Many major energy companies are increasing their natural gas holdings in anticipation of high demand from power companies as developed nations use more electricity for transportation and less oil.

Electric vehicles make up only a tiny share of new-vehicle sales, but with prices for batteries dropping fast, some estimate 100 million electric vehicles could be on the road by 2025. That electricity has to come from somewhere, and most analysts predict natural gas will be the primary fuel supplemented by wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear.

The desire for a piece of the natural gas business was the main reason Canadian pipeline company Enbridge purchased Houston-based Spectra, Al Monaco, CEO of Enbridge, said in a Chronicle interview. Enbridge also has a significant wind energy business in North America and Europe.

"The reality is that there is a growing share of natural gas and renewables, and that's why it fits very well for us," he said. "You're going to need all of those sources of supply. The costs of renewables are coming down, and they match up very well with natural gas, and the returns are pretty good."

The majority of new demand for energy, though, will take place in developing countries outside North America and Europe. India's growing economy will make it the largest source of demand growth, and officials there want to develop local natural gas and renewable resources in addition to importing more liquefied natural gas, said Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, India's petroleum minister.

"Gas is 11 percent of our energy mix today," he said. "We want to increase that to 15 percent in the next year or two and another 15 percent in five to six years."

Talk about electrification of transportation and a possible peak in the demand for oil has Saudi Arabia worried that companies won't invest enough in new wells, said Khalid Al-Falih, the national energy minister. In particular, they might not invest the $2 trillion that the kingdom is expecting when it sells 5 percent of Saudi Aramco on Wall Street next year.

"The risk of under-investment by such theories amount to nothing less than compromising the world's energy security by squandering vast quantities of our planet's natural energy endowment," he said.

CERAWeek is the fossil fuel crowd's big annual meeting, and most speakers proclaim a long and prosperous future for their industry. But companies and countries that rely on oil and gas income are recognizing that renewable forms of electricity and liquid fuels are gaining traction as prices come down and their popularity rises.

That's why executives are adapting their portfolios to add cleaner fuels and moderating their rhetoric on climate change. They are also more aggressively marketing their products as critical to helping the poor and meeting the needs of a growing global population.

"A low-carbon future will reshape the energy space. Some see this as a threat to our industry, but we should rather look for and act on the opportunities it offers," said Eldar Sætre, CEO of Norway's Statoil. "We have to respond more forcefully to the challenge of climate change."

The oil and gas industry has clearly recognized that its monopoly on transportation fuels is weakening for the first time since automobiles replaced horse-drawn carriages.

And the industry will do everything possible to avoid meeting a similar fate.



Brian Gabriel Comeaux
03/08/17 09:55:31AM @brian-gabriel-comeaux:

Remember that as of 2015, there were 1.2 billion vehicles on the road worldwide.  That number is predicted to be 2 billion by 2035.  If you assume a steady rate of increase that is an increase of 40 million vehicles per year which would mean a total increase of 400 million by 2025 of which at most 1/4 would be electric.  That still means an increase of 300 million automobiles powered by internal combustion engines by 2025.  Back of the napkin calculations of course, but still instructive.  There will continue to be growth in demand for petroleum as a transportation fuel. 

BP should be careful about feeding the beast that wants desperately to destroy it.

Skip Peel - Independent Landman
03/08/17 11:32:45AM @skip-peel-independent-landman:
Yes, crude demand should increase incrementally for another 10 to 15 years. 25% of light duty vehicles being EV is dependent on advances in battery technology. CNG for light duty and LNG for heavy duty vehicles will replace some gas and deisel vehicles. BP and other majors are good at projecting future demand and that is why they are adding natural gas reserves. There are advantages for the industry in supporting carbon related programs.
Brian Gabriel Comeaux
03/08/17 11:49:46AM @brian-gabriel-comeaux:


Have you read the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein?  He makes a good case that industry appeasement of the anthropocentric global warming crowd is unwise and unnecessary.  Highly recommended reading.

As for electric vehicles, if they can improve battery technology to the point where a reasonably sized battery can give you 300 mile range with say a 10-15 minute recharge time, I'm all in.  Highly superior to an internal combustion engine at that point.  They still have quite a way to go to get there.

Skip Peel - Independent Landman
03/10/17 10:12:06PM @skip-peel-independent-landman:

brian, I checked The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels and I give it a C-.  Although I agree with the importance of oil and natural gas, the same case can not be made for coal.  The science behind human caused climate change has reached the point of a settled fact.  We need to accept that fact and move to the next question, what do we do about it?  I don't support the hard greens and find it irrational to stop using fossil fuels.  I think coal use needs to cease as soon as practical and that natural gas is a logical and cost effective replacement.  The auto industry has done a stellar job of increasing mileage across their fleets.  Sub-compacts are okay for some but I marvel at the mileage achieved by full size pick up trucks.  While it was true in 2014 that renewable energy sources were in general more expensive and less reliable than fossil fuels, the advances made in those 2 plus years have closed the gap considerably.  I think innovations in renewables will continue to make them more reliable and less costly.  I think we can continue to use fossil fuels in a responsible manner while science gets a better grasp of how climate change is progressing and the options for how to respond. Thanks for the referral.

Brian Gabriel Comeaux
03/14/17 09:35:20AM @brian-gabriel-comeaux:

Coal is dead for the same reason burning wood to make steam died.  There are more efficient, denser and cheaper alternatives, most importantly natural gas.  That being said, the relative merits of different forms of fossil fuels were not the theme of Epstein's book, although he did take the time to explain it.  Rather, his theme was that whatever the environmental costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels (and each one has some environmental footprint), the benefits from doing so far outweigh costs.  Furthermore, as he explains, short of the absolute most extreme catastrophic predictions for climate change, we are much more likely to deal with any problems through amelioration from wise use of fossil fuels than we are from switching to low-density and intermittent renewable forms such as wind and solar.  The energy progression from sail to steam to diesel to nuclear fission was unfortunately stymied at that last stop for silly reasons.  Nonetheless, the next stop is more likely to be hydrogen or nuclear fusion, and if we're going to dump subsidies on R&D for energy it should be there rather than the solar and wind dead ends.  Solar may have a future as producer of hydrogen.  Wind is hopeless.  It is such a low density source that the land use requirements for mass scale electrical production from wind are enormous.  Hence the interest in offshore windfarms that only add the further problem of increased maintenance requirements in a marine requirement to its inherent deficiencies of density and intermittency.  Battery technology is improving, no doubt, but again improving energy storage is also pretty much a dead end.  Any benefit from improvement is offset by the inherent losses in conversion and energy loss in storage.  To say nothing of the fact that battery production and disposal carries a pretty hefty environmental footprint of its own.

Skip Peel - Independent Landman
03/14/17 10:12:13AM @skip-peel-independent-landman:

There it is, the crux of the debate.  "..whatever the environmental costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels (and each one has some environmental footprint), the benefits from doing so far outweigh costs."  No one including Epstein knows the potential cost.  And that undermines what otherwise is a cogent argument.  In my opinion he also goes too far in disparaging renewables by assuming that related technology will not continue to evolve at the rate that he has over the last five years.  He may be right but I wouldn't make that bet.  The stakes are too high.

Although man influenced climate change should be beyond the debate at this point, the potential for the most dire climate catastrophes are currently unknowable.  That and the fact that the majority of energy consumers will not support any actions that make their energy cost rise significantly means the hard greens are tilting at windmills, so to speak.  :-)  We agree that the most logical actions at this time are to phase out coal as soon as practical, switch to natural gas for industrial, business and residential end users (this also requires re-plumbing our pipeline grid) and support common sense regulations that promote energy conservation and efficiency.

whatever the environmental costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels (and each one has some environmental footprint), the benefits from doing so far outweigh costs. - See more at:

his theme was that whatever the environmental costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels (and each one has some environmental footprint), the benefits from doing so far outweigh costs.  - See more at:

Brian Gabriel Comeaux
03/14/17 12:55:59PM @brian-gabriel-comeaux:

You cannot change the inherent density and intermittency problems with wind and solar.  You can try to paper over intermittency with storage.  Our resources need to go to clean energy sources with a future.  Natural gas is here and now.  Hydrogen and nuclear fusion may have a future.

I'd also say that we have a pretty good handle on the environmental costs of oil and gas extraction and use.  We're also still bending the curve downward on that cost.

03/14/17 04:32:33PM @martin:

Comercial fusion energy was said to be thirty years in the future in the 1960s. Best reports are that it is still 30 years in the future. It may be of the class Unobtanium. 

Brian Gabriel Comeaux
03/14/17 05:14:44PM @brian-gabriel-comeaux:

Interesting work on fusion going on in Europe.

But yes, there is history of "next big break" always being right around the corner.  But same can be said for battery technology.

And, at least with fusion, when and if it comes--it's game over.  Can't really say that for batteries.

Randy Peterson
03/11/17 12:10:30PM @randy-peterson:

Follow Nublu Energy.....LNG for trucks & other High Horsepower Engines. Cleaner, Less cost & 100% american.

Skip Peel - Independent Landman
03/11/17 12:31:16PM @skip-peel-independent-landman:

LNG can also power ships.

First North American LNG Bunkering Terminal Opens

Tuesday February 16, 2016

The first bunkering operation at Harvey Gulf's new Port Fourchon LNG terminal saw the transfer of 43,000 gallons of LNG to the M/V Harvey Energy.

Harvey Gulf International Marine, LLC (Harvey Gulf) has completed the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering of a vessel from its newly completed LNG terminal facility, located at its Port Fourchon, Louisiana operation base, the first such facility in North America.

The bunkering is said to have included the transfer of 43,000 gallons of LNG over a 2.25 hour period to the M/V Harvey Energy, a LNG-powered Offshore Supply Vessel that is under charter to Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell).

The terminal is reported to have been designed to meet U.S. federal requirements, with the capacity to store 270,000 gallons, spread across three 90,000 gallon type "C" vacuum insulated tanks, and pump at a rate of 550 gallons per minute (GMP).

"This a testament to Harvey Gulf's commitment to promoting the use of LNG, a clean, abundant, and cost-effective alternative marine fuel," said Shane Guidry, Chairman and CEO of Harvey Gulf.

"With the completion of our LNG terminal at Port Fourchon, we are able to provide a LNG bunkering point at the epicenter of marine operations for the Gulf of Mexico, which is vital to continuing the shift to LNG as a marine fuel."

Last year, Ship & Bunker reported that M/V Harvey Energy's sister ship, M/V Harvey Energy, was supplied with LNG bunkers by truck-to-ship transfer in Pascagoula in the Gulf of Mexico, an event that was said to make Harvey Gulf the first company in North America to bunker an offshore support vessel.

Ship & Bunker News Team

Steve P
03/14/17 08:59:48PM @steve-p:

billions of $$ and € going into fusion research, but unlikely to change the world anytime soon.

coal can be cleaned up enough to not be an environmental catastrophe, but at much too high a cost.  Solar has a niche, and i think battery research is making gains, but it is still a decade away from impacting the world energy usage. 'But, unlike wind, there's sun shining in lots of places in the world. 😁

wind is very limited.  anyone ever drive from Barstow to Bakersfield?  largest wind farm in the US, and it renders a huge swath of land useless for anything else.  oh, and it also kills the recently recovered condors.  pick your poison, enviros.

nuclear (good ole fission) continues to be a marginal player due to costs and politics.

that pretty much leaves us with NG for the next, say, 20 years.  LNG greatly increases the impact and flexibility of NG.

i think fossil fuels have a future.  the alternatives, including climate change, don't overcome this fact.




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