Energy Safety, Security Under the Spotlight as Gas Leaders Debate Future

As the unfolding crisis in Japan raises debates about the future for nuclear power and as Middle Eastern political unrest destabilises petroleum markets, the energy industry faces many considerable challenges as it heads to a flagship industry gathering being held on  March 21-24 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

On the morning of March 21 at Gastech, the international gas industry's flagship event,  a formidable panel of leaders will debate these challenges and discuss the role that gas will likely play in the rapidly-changing and politically-driven future energy mix. As the European Union's Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger called for a "stress testing" of Europe's nuclear power facilities, many have begun to now question which sources will deliver not only efficient and clean power, but--above all else--safe energy.

Leading the debate is Shell's global head of upstream international, Malcolm Brinded CBE, who is driving Shell's developments of natural gas as a primary aspect of their energy portfolio--around half of all their hydrocarbon production by 2012. Joining Brinded will be key influencers including Sheikh Khalid Al-Thani, CEO of Qatargas, Hans-Peter Floren, member of the board of management at E.ON Ruhrgas, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Maxime Verhagen.

With new uncertainties raised about the role for nuclear power, and uncertainty over Middle Eastern oil supply, the potential role that gas now plays in any future energy mix is now a critical topic to understand. Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Maxime Verhagen, remarks that gas is critical to this fuel mix as we make the complex evolution towards lower-carbon output, whilst ensuring economic growth remains unstifled:

"For many decades to come, gas will remain critically important to the energy mix worldwide. In our effort to move to an efficient and low carbon economy, natural gas as the cleanest of fossil fuels is indispensable. The Netherlands aims to contribute to this transition by serving as a gas hub to North-West Europe."

Growth of natural gas use in power generation has being projected at an average of 2 percent per year, or just under 50 percent by 2030. The revolution in unconventional gas development in the United States, for example, is also expected to spread to other regions around the globe and spur major new plays in a fuel that is regarded by many as the cleanest and least carbon-intensive fossil fuel.