Golden age of gas on the horizon

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On December 29, 2015, Posted by , In News, By , With No Comments

Iran is endowed with 18 percent of the most easily accessible world natural gas reserves, which is the answer to the sustainable energy for the 21st century, replacing coal and oil.

Today’s low energy, mineral and other commodity prices are expected to stay stagnant until the end of the decade. Producers of natural gas are expected to ride this storm out because a bright future awaits the industry.

Due to the weak economic growth in Asia economies, cheap coal, the partial return of nuclear power in Japan and the ever-expanding glut of shale gas supply from North America, today we are witnessing record low prices for natural gas.

According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), world trade in Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) has more than tripled over the last 20 years. Being the cleanest fossil fuel on earth, with the lowest environmental imprint, natural gas is expected to replace coal and in many cases gasoline.

During the November summit of Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), members were presented with the Global Gas Model. Secretary General of GECF Mohammad-Hossein Adeli: ‘It is a technically advanced model which is designed to forecast market behavior based on the facts from 133 countries, their fields and wells.’

The Global Gas Model took two years to design, takes over 60,000 variables from different countries to analyze and forecast future possible scenarios. According to this global gas model the primary demand could increase by 58 percent over the next 25 years. This means gas share of the fuel mix between 2014 and 2040 could rise from 21 percent to 25 percent.

Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) technology has made transportation of natural gas more feasible and has made extraordinary contribution in the global penetration of this form of energy in the world.

For the environmentally conscious readers most of the development in the first world has been due to the coal powered industry. Now the same tradition is followed by the third world and emerging economies. Considering the population, high economic growth rates and development, using coal in these countries simply means disaster.

According to Exxon Mobile the global gas demand will soar 65 percent by 2040. This demand will be driven by population growth, improved living standards and expanded urbanization.

Today only 20 percent of power generators are run on natural gas. However, natural gas will run 30 percent of world’s power generators by 2040 when demand for electricity is expected to be 80 percent higher than today.

There is a need to wean off the emerging world economies from coal powered energy. The developed world has the moral responsibility to transfer more efficient industrial technology to the third world. Here, everyone’s future is at stake.

Moreover, at the COP21 Climate Change Conference world leaders signed an agreement which establishes an obligation for industrialized countries to fund climate change for poor countries, while developing countries are required to contribute on volunteer basis. The best contribution in this case is the transfer of clean and more efficient technology.

Shale gas

Shale gas is recovered by the process of hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking) has elevated US from a net importer of LNG to the status of largest producer and a major exporter of natural gas today. Oil is also produced using fracking and it is the dirtiest fuel in the market today. On

December 20 Congressional approval ends a long-standing oil export ban in the U.S.

The US has kept Iran from developing its LNG export industry for the past 15 years, which in turn gave its own extractive industries an opportunity to fill market demand that would have been available for Iranian LNG exports.

Australia’s LNG projects are expected to come on stream in 2017. Australia also uses fracking to separate natural gas from shale.

There are regular protests on the use of fracking method to obtain oil or gas because of its expensive environmental imprint. Yet the US and Australia are positioning themselves for the rise in LNG trade and are expect to supply almost 50 percent of global LNG by 2020.

Shale gas is only the answer for some greedy and powerful oil companies who will disappear when the ecological disaster of fracking will begin to surface. It could be even worse. Once they realize this is not the way of the future and after the fall of their share prices, hope they don’t expect government bailout.

Worth mentioning is that renewable energy cannot replace natural gas as a fuel stock in many key areas such as industry, petrochemicals, chemicals and to a degree heating.

Natural gas is the best viable alternative for keeping the wheels of the industries rolling for the time being, at least until more sustainable alternative sources of energy are developed.

Why chill and shrink LNG?

Cooling LNG at temperatures of minus 162 degrees Celsius (-260F) shrinks its volume 600 times, making it easier to store and ship. Thus 600 cubic feet of methane gas will shrink to a volume of 1 cubic feet of clean and odorless LNG.

It is similar to reducing the volume of a beach ball to the volume of a ping pong ball.

Once cooled the LNG can be transported using special tankers to its destination. Upon arrival LNG is warmed to its original gaseous state at a gasification terminal located in a port for loading/offloading from LNG tankers. Once offloaded transmission networks can be used for heating or cooling homes, generating electricity and fueling machinery.

Alternative transportation modes for natural gas are pipelines and railways. The former takes a long time to build and requires geopolitical security, while the later has all the same drawbacks plus it is simply more expensive.

LNG is different from crude oil. Due to its low temperatures while in liquid form, it is less prone to burning and exploding.

In an unlikely event of spill on water or land, the LNG would vaporize and dissipate into the atmosphere with little to no residue.
LNG is odorless, colorless, non-corrosive and non-toxic.

Natural gas is the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel and the Islamic Republic has the biggest proven reservoirs in the world.

Unlike the shale gas produced in the US and Australia, the process of gas recovery in Iran is safe, environmentally friendly and cost effective. LNG development is an important strategic way for Iranian natural gas to play an important role in filling the global energy demand.

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