Natural gas by 2025 will overtake coal as the
world's second-largest fuel source and transform North America into a
net energy exporter, according to long-term projections issued
Tuesday by ExxonMobil.
In its projection of energy sector trends through 2040, the world's largest oil company estimates that global energy demand will rise by 35 per cent by 2040, with the increase coming overwhelmingly from high-growth developing and emerging nations, and much of it in China and India.
"This economic growth is a good news story," said William Colton, ExxonMobil vice president of corporate strategic planning, as he presented the updated annual outlook at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
The rising energy consumption will enable living standards to continue to rise for people worldwide, he said: "The world runs on energy."
The growth in demand will be matched by technological developments to increase efficiency, which the outlook predicts will meet most of the increase in demand over the coming decades.
"The greatest source of energy for the future is continuing to use it more efficiently," the report stated.
With the technology already in place, exploitation of natural gas will provide for much of the increasing energy needs, according to the outlook.
Natural gas is both abundant in North America and the most economical choice considering proposed carbon taxes in the United States.
Kenneth Cohen, ExxonMobil vice president for public and government affairs, said that the company would not oppose carbon taxation if it were aimed to curb carbon emissions, rather than purely a revenue instrument.
The outlook projects global carbon emissions to level off around 2030.
In European and North American countries, which belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), emissions are already declining due to improving efficiency and the shift to natural gas. Emissions in those countries are to go down 20 per cent by 2040.
In emerging and developing non-OECD countries, such as India and China, emissions will rise by 50 per cent in the next two decades before plateauing.
With crude oil remaining the world's top fuel source - followed in the future by natural gas - the ExxonMobil report dismisses the idea that renewable energy can be a sole or even competitive source.
"Wind and solar energy will grow, but it will be underpinned by the government, because otherwise they are not economic," Colton said.
ExxonMobil is the world's largest publicly traded energy company. The company is the world's largest oil refiner and owns petrol retailers Exxon, Mobil and Esso.
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