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Shell CEO: Natural Gas Plays to Strengths

Royal Dutch Shell plc's management team laid out its strategy plan last week, which remains laser focused on global natural gas.

"Strong growth in gas markets, especially integrated gas, is a major opportunity for Shell and our shareholders," said CEO Peter Voser. "Our integrated gas earnings have more than trebled in the last five years, reaching $9 billion over the last year, driven by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas-to-liquids (GTL), and we see growth opportunities to invest over $20 billion here for 2012-15. We are aiming to develop profitable new gas supplies to meet the market's growing demand for clean and affordable low carbon energy. This plays to Shell's technology and financial strength."

Driven by emerging global economies, worldwide primary energy demand may double to 400 million boe/d in the first half of the 21st Century, from around 200 million boe/d in 2000 and 270 million boe/d in 2011, according to Shell. About two-thirds of energy consumption in 2030 may be in countries that are not part of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

To meet global demand will require large-scale and sustained investment in all forms of energy, with a mix that is 80% hydrocarbons today, the European oil major said. Hydrocarbons are expected to dominate "for some time to come."

Natural gas "has an important role to play, with more than 250 years of global supply established, and emerging exploration potential, especially in shale gas." Shell expects global gas demand to increase by 60% from 2010 to 2030, reaching 25% of the global primary energy mix and within that, strong growth in liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Demand for LNG has doubled to 200 million tons per year (mtpa) from 2000 to 2010, noted the company. Shell now expects LNG demand to double again to 400 mtpa by 2020 and possibly reach 500 mtpa by 2025. The demand growth would require a "substantial industry investment -- potentially more than $700 billion -- and continued innovation and interdependency between supplier and customer countries."

Shell is an industry leader in LNG and in gas-to-liquids, and its scientists are developing integrated applications that include gas-to-chemicals, converting ethane into commercial petrochemicals, and LNG for transport.

According to management, Shell now has 22 mtpa of LNG on stream and is building 7 mtpa of LNG capacity in Australia, which would increase production by 30%. Also on the drawing board are more than 20 mtpa of other LNG options in Australia, Indonesia and North America, including an LNG export facility in British Columbia, which would be the largest announced to date (see NGI, Aug. 6). It also is assessing more than 5 mtpa of LNG to transport opportunities worldwide.

"We are using Shell's scale and innovation to continue to drive gas growth through integrated value chains," said Voser. "Our portfolio and opportunity set in global gas is unrivaled in the industry today. There is more to come from Shell."

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