Oil giants exit coal, more focus on gas

Major energy companies have used the World Gas Forum have announced their intention to exit coal markets and lessen their exposure to oil, focusing more on their gas assets.

Speaking earlier this week at the World Gas Conference in Paris, Total head Patrick Pouyanne said the company will move away from coal and focus more on the burgeoning gas space, according to Bloomberg.

“I still have a coal business and I have to get out of it,” Pouyanne said.

“I can’t say that coal is the enemy of gas and then continue to produce coal like some of my colleagues. I will get out of coal.

“Total is gas and gas is good.”

Pouyanne explained that the LNG market is expected to represent a greater share of the current global energy share.

“There will be a profound change in the world energy mix,” he said, adding the company plans to produce around 32.5 million tonnes of LNG.

Chevron also used the world gas forum to promote LNG, with chairman John Watson stating that natural gas and LNG will be essential to the world’s future energy mix, adding that natural gas is significant part of the company’s portfolio.

Exxonmobil CEO Rex Tillerson added that there is a predicted 65 per cent growth in gas demand in the coming 25 years, with gas likely to overtake coal as the second most prolific fuel source by 2025
Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden stated that gas, not coal, needed to be centre of focus in the world energy mix.

“How do we ensure that gas, not coal, is at the heart of the energy solution to meet rising demand,” Van Beurden asked.

“The benefits of gas are well documented,” he said.

 “Gas is flexible, abundant, its ranges of use are increasing, it’s a strong ally for renewables, and it makes economic sense. Building gas power stations is faster and cheaper than coal. So, the quicker we move away from coal to a mix of gas and renewables, the cheaper energy will become.

“Still, the golden age of gas will not come automatically; we will need to work for it.”

Last month van Beurden made similar statements on the future importance of gas, stating that the company is shifting from "an oil-and-gas company to a gas-and-oil company".

Shell has also upped its exposure to the industry by leading the world with the development of its floating LNG platform Prelude, and making a massive $94 billion takeover push for the BG Group, which would give it access to the QCLNG plant on Curtis Island.

The energy giant has previously fought the expansion of coal globally,previously lobbying the World Bank to halt funding coal-fired plants before the firm announced it would cut lending to the coal sector.

Shell's head of gas, Maarten Wetselaar stated the company formed a department whose sole purpose was to lobby governments and funding bodies to look to gas as a power source over coal.

Wetselaar said climate change had pushed Shell to convince entities to increase the sale of gas in the global market

Australian LNG is now shifting into this next era, moving from an era of construction into one of production.

The $250 billion ramp-up phase comes at a time of increased uncertainty for the industry, with continued volatility seen in the market thanks to an unstable oil and gas price.

However, in spite of this current volatility, it is expected that 13 new LNG trains with seven new plants will come online between now and 2018.

According to recent Accenture Australia paper, the industry will increase even further, with Australian LNG production rising 260 per cent between 2014 and 2018, to eventually pip Qatar at the world’s largest producer.

This includes the Gorgon LNG project, APLNG, Gladstone LNG, Wheatstone, Ichthys, and importantly Shell’s Prelude project, the world’s first floating LNG (FLNG) facility.

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