International energy consultancy Xodus Group, which is headquartered in Aberdeen, believes that worldwide consumption will continue to increase, driven by economic growth in developing countries, and that about half of that demand will need to be fulfilled by natural gas.
Its “Rapid Pivot to Gas” report shows that under this model, as much as $20 trillion (£15.3tn) would need to be spent on natural gas exploration and production over the next 20 years.
The forecast would require significant advancements in technology to produce the gas responsibly, including carbon capture and storage systems. The scenario includes the phasing out of coal and oil in response to vehicle electrification and environmental pressures and a “rapid and robust” increase in renewable production.
The report shows that over the past 25 years, per capita energy consumption of developing countries out with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has grown at just over 2 per cent annually. In the OECD, on average, per capita consumption has fallen by about 0.2 per cent annually in the same period.
These growth rates were used to project future energy demand by region.
Andrew Sewell, director of subsurface at Xodus, which also has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, said: “Recent forecasts take a developed world view showing either a plateauing or fall in energy consumption, but growing populations in developing countries mixed with increasing wealth are much more likely to result in a surge of overall primary energy consumption.
“We are anticipating an unprecedented decline in oil and coal, but even with energy from renewables modelled to the most aggressive increase, our analysis shows that a much more rapid pivot to gas is required to meet increased demand. Securing that gas sustainably by quickly enabling CCS and other decarbonisation technologies must move further up the agenda of governments and industries around the world.”
He added: “Assuming that natural gas supplies the difference in total demand, we estimate that consumption could grow up to 200 per cent by 2040 accounting for half of all primary energy consumption and 73 per cent of the fossil fuel component.
“Energy industries need to consider this potential gas demand spike in the landscape of the necessary decarbonisation of our global energy supply along with the huge exploration and production expenditure it would require.”