ExxonMobil Says Natural Gas to Surpass Coal by 2030

IRVING, Texas -- Natural gas will surpass coal and emerge as the second-largest global energy source behind oil by 2030, forecasts ExxonMobil Corp. in its annual energy outlook, "Outlook for Energy: A View to 2030." As a lower-cost source than coal, natural gas will become a "particularly attractive" fuel for the electric power generation sector, predicted to "soar" globally by more than 150 percent, according to Bill Colton, vice president, corporate strategic planning, who reported the outlook results in a conference call yesterday.

The shift towards natural gas will take place "as businesses and governments look for reliable, affordable and cleaner ways to meet energy needs," said Rex. W. Tillerson, chairman and CEO, in a statement. "ExxonMobil will continue to invest in technology and innovation to develop new economic energy supplies to help meet this demand while looking for ways to reduce environmental impacts."

The outlook also predicted overall global demand for energy will jump 35 percent from 2005 baseline levels -- this was largely unchanged from last year’s outlook, which also forecasted 35 percent energy growth. ExxonMobil outlined the energy demand growth will be almost entirely in developing economies, where usage will climb 70 percent, while developed economies will see essentially flat demand because of improvements in energy efficiency.

Other findings from the outlook include:

-- Rising electricity demand -- and the choice of fuels used to generate that electricity -- represent a key focus area, which will have a major impact on the global energy landscape over the next two decades. According to the outlook, global electricity demand will rise by more than 80 percent from 2003 through 2030.

-- Limiting greenhouse gas emissions will lead to polices in many countries that put a cost on carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, abundant supplies of natural gas will become increasingly competitive as an economic source of electric power. (Natural gas results in up to 60 percent fewer CO2 emissions than coal in generating electricity).

-- Demand of natural gas for power generation is expected to rise by about 85 percent from 2005 to 2030 when natural gas will provide more than a quarter of the world’s electricity needs. Natural gas demand is rising in every region of the world but growth is strongest in non-OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, particularly China where demand in 2030 will be approximately six times what it was in 2005.

-- Efficiency gains are expected to accelerate between 2005 and 2030 versus historical trends. Gains in the wise and efficient use of energy will curb energy demand growth through 2030 by about 65 percent worldwide.

-- Wind, solar and biofuels will grow sharply through 2030, at nearly 10 percent per year on average. However, because they are starting from a small base, their contribution by 2030 is likely to remain relatively small at about 2.5 percent of total energy.

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