Natural gas will cut a stronger profile at home and abroad during the years ahead, and the United States will benefit from that, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said during a presentation at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City Wednesday.

Natural gas will be "enormously important" in the United States and to the world, he said. "And that's for a number of reasons: its abundance, its affordability, its functionality. And natural gas, we expect, over the next 25-30 years...the world's demand for natural gas is going to increase about 60%. It's going to be the fastest-growing energy source in the world, and at that time it will satisfy more than 25% of total global energy demand."

The fastest-growing demand sector for energy is electric power generation, Tillerson said. At home, much of the shifting fuel demand for power generation comes from fuel-switching, particularly between gas and coal, he said, "but globally, electricity is what is growing the fastest.

"Large, large portions of global population still are not served with electricity. Electricity underpins their quality of life, but it underpins economic growth: industrial activities, manufacturing...[D]emand for electricity is why natural gas is going to grow so rapidly."

A large portion of Tillerson's talk focused on U.S. oil production. He said the United States is still the third-largest oil producer in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.

"Similarly on the natural gas side, [the] United States, given the seasonality of the year, at any time is either the world's largest natural gas producer or the second-largest natural gas producer," he said. "We go back and forth with Russia. So to say the U.S. is energy poor is simply not accurate. And to say we don't have the capacity to pursue and achieve energy security is also not accurate."

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