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natural gas: 'on the cusp of truly dynamic growth'

A bright future for natural gas and Chevron's strong growth in this fuel took center stage during Global Gas President John Gass's speech at the recent Gastech 2011 conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

John Gass at GasTech 2011

In his keynote speech at Gastech 2011, Chevron's John Gass speaks about the growing role for natural gas in the world's energy mix.

Global Gas sponsored the conference, which was hosted by Shell in partnership with the Gas Technology Institute. Gastech takes place every 18 months at different locations around the world. Our significant involvement in the conference included a high-tech exhibit, a keynote speech by Gass and presentations by other members of the Global Gas team. In his speech, Gass described the natural gas landscape.

"I believe we're on the cusp of some truly dynamic growth decades for natural gas," he said.

Gass admitted this may not be a universal belief.

"Some observers may be deterred by the passing showers—the depressed gas prices and supply fluctuations that may be giving pause to some. We see it differently. We take the long view."

Gass described how Chevron acknowledges the challenges presented by this resource and recognizes the opportunities that may open to it in the future.

"We're backing our optimism with some bullish bets—the largest capital investments in our history," he said. Gass explained that Chevron sees natural gas as an increasingly attractive option for power generation in some of the world's fastest-growing markets.

"Chevron and many others are working to bring emerging energy sources to commercial scale, but most people agree, hydrocarbons will continue to provide the lion's share of the world's energy needs for many years to come, and natural gas is poised to claim its share," he said.

"By any measure, natural gas delivers exceptional value and is emerging as the world's dominant clean energy power source," Gass said.

Natural gas satisfies all the criteria necessary to be a viable energy source: It offers sufficient supply—the world's reserves have grown nearly 150 percent since 1980—and the technology and infrastructure to produce and deliver it are in place.

"The world is turning to natural gas because no other energy source so effectively delivers its complete range of attributes," Gass said.

Describing the growth potential for natural gas demand, Gass was clear about Chevron's resource base: Over the next 20 years, demand is expected to grow at a rate more than double that of oil—and China and India will "feature strongly" in that picture.

In particular, Gass said, the emergence of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a global commodity "is transforming the landscape...Where is the next big shift going to take place?" he asked. The answer: Australia.

Chevron's natural gas portfolio focuses on the Asia-Pacific region, Gass explained. He discussed our work in Australia, which has a "sound investment climate" and favorable proximity to the area of the greatest current and future demand. "There is one other factor in all of this: location, location, location. Australia's proximity to the big growth markets of the Asia-Pacific provides a very big pull factor."

The development of the Gorgon and Wheatstone fields offshore Western Australia "will transform Chevron into one of the world's top gas producers," he noted. Both projects are remarkable in terms of their scale: Gorgon alone presents sufficient supply to power New York City for a century. He also mentioned the environmental strides Chevron has made with Gorgon, which will become the world's largest carbon sequestration project and involves operations on Barrow Island, a Class A nature reserve.

Looking elsewhere, in North America, tight gas and shale gas "have transformed the supply landscape in less than a decade, and we see this story continuing into the future," Gass said. Chevron is becoming more involved in unconventional gas as well.

Chevron recently improved its position in North American shale gas through the acquisition of Atlas Energy and its access to the Marcellus Shale. The company also is pursuing European shale, in Poland and Romania.

While the industry will always have to "confront challenges and unforeseen circumstances," Gass said, "We can be certain of the critical role hydrocarbons—and especially natural gas—will play in meeting the world's energy needs."

Updated: March 2011

Updated: March 2011