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Identifying long-term role for gas as global energy mix diversifies

Sep 19, 2018
4 min read
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Zvonimir Djerfi, Europe President at Baker Hughes, A Ge Company (BHGE), on paving the way to gas as a “destination” for a greener and more sustainable energy sector

The global energy market is evolving and rapidly transitioning towards the most diversified fuel mix in history. Global players are striving to achieve a low emission future, with renewable energy sources gaining increasing popularity as a real, credible alternative to coal and other fossil fuels. Yet, no single energy source is expected to emerge as truly dominant.

So, where does this leave gas? It’s widely accepted that keeping the average global temperature increase to its minimum – or below the 1.5°C limit set by the Paris Agreement – requires the adoption of renewables to be intensified, but also an increase in the share of gas at the expense of coal. In the face of competition from a growing renewables sector and the persistence of coal and nuclear energy production, the gas industry must look to position itself for strong growth over the mid-to-long-term.

To achieve this, all sections of the industry need to address the challenges that must be overcome in order to reap the benefits gas has to offer in a global energy sense. How do we guarantee a long-term role for gas and one that’s much more than a stepping stone or stop-gap in the transition to renewables? How do we ensure gas is a “destination” in its own right?

Across the various market sectors, there is growing consensus that gas can be an optimal solution that serves multiple energy applications: from power generation to manufacturing to transportation. It was clear to me already in 2007 that a family car powered by gas in a city like Milan, where we lived at the time, offered a low carbon solution while being at the same time affordable, available and flexible.

The gas market is not without its own set of challenges:

  • Quantify and bring online stranded resources: stranded gas is typically either wasted or unused natural gas (as a by-product of oil production) or it can be found in deep offshore reserves (such as the Arctic, or Siberia). We need to find economical ways to bring these resources to use.
  • Transport infrastructure: infrastructure for gas remains underdeveloped in many parts of the world; gas networks are complex both in terms of technical requirements and their potential impact on local communities becomes the subject of strong political discussions.

We need more gas transit pipeline projects, which are critical to unlock domestic gas supplies, from small power generation plants, to light industry, to vehicle fuelling stations.

  • Cleaner and greener: the new normal and energy transition context calls for the gas opportunity to be harnessed in a “greener” way. To drive lower carbon and cleaner energy for the future, the technology deployed must deliver both high efficiency and reduced emissions.                

As a leader in providing gas technology and services across the entire gas value chain from extraction to transportation to end use, BHGE works with its customers to support global gas projects of all sizes with more flexible, modular design options.

Our technology portfolio is helping unlock unconventional and stranded resources, with lower cycle times to development. We recognise that gas networks are complex to co-ordinate and as a pioneer in LNG & FLNG - 35+ of the world’s LNG plants are driven by our gas turbines and our technology is supporting the world’s first five FLNG projects – we partner from the earliest stages of a project’s lifecycle to maximise efficiency, reliability and productivity. Today, to meet broader environmental goals, we ensure sustainability is at the core or our technology developments.

Our newest LM9000 gas turbine, for example, achieves 40 per cent lower NOx emissions, with 20 per cent lower total cost of ownership for the customer, and 20 per cent more power. We are applying our learning to some of the world’s most demanding projects, including the Nassiriya and Al Gharraf oilfields in Iraq, where our technology is capturing, compressing, and reusing natural associated gas to fuel oilfield equipment, and to support domestic electricity, heating, and cooking.

We are shaping the future through our actions, driving innovation and the adoption of new technology while fostering closer collaboration among industry players. 

These are the key ingredients required to advance a common agenda and pave a prosperous and sustainable future for the gas market.