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Monica_55905 Feb 28

Energy Transition - Can It Be Done Without Gas?

Energy Transition - Can It Be Done Without Gas? image
Latin America & Caribbean Gas Conference & Exhibition Session Summary
“The world is at a crossroads, and it has led to the common coining of the phrase: ‘energy transition’. The question that everyone is asking at this crossroads is whether gas has a role to play in this transition. From my perspective, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.”

These were the opening remarks courtesy of H.E Honourable Stuart Young MP, Minister of Energy Industries in Trinidad and Tobago. The country has a longer tradition with the use of gas than many others, but even in spite of this entrenched capability, there seems to be an acknowledgement that the wider, global energy transition can’t be achieved without gas.

Young continued: “Natural gas isn’t just a transition fuel. It is the only hydrocarbon fossil fuel that is here to stay – even beyond the current predictions of 2050.

“It doesn’t mean we’re not concerned about the use of carbon and about greenhouse gas emissions. It means that to reduce carbonisation, we need a long-term option that is affordable, flexible, and cleaner than oil and coal.”

Young’s opinion was compounded at the recent COP26 event in Scotland. He looked up from his train seat, to notice a host of wind turbines not moving. It was another case of mother nature not playing ball – something that Brazil can relate to in Latin America with its ongoing drought and subsequent hydrocarbon difficulties.

The case for the use of renewable power sources is undeniable, but relying solely on wind, or hydro, or solar, leaves countries vulnerable to events outside of their control. And that’s why the lesser of the carbon evils needs to be indulged, too.

With that consensus reached, the next crossroads, or area of discussion should perhaps instead revolve around how to make natural gas as clean as possible. Research and studies into the role of hydrogen – as either a standalone source, or to aid the production of ammonia – or methanol have already been kickstarted in Trinidad and Tobago; both for direct fuel purpose, or alternately for transport and industrial use.

Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is another key area of focus for countries with existing swathes of natural gas potential; especially as part of a regionally connected network.

This latter point is especially important, as not every country has the same established infrastructure or relationship with natural gas that Trinidad and Tobago does - even though most are exploring the role that it could play moving forward. Panama is a positive example of a country that is in the process of reassessing its energy matrix for its 2030 and 2050 goals. This addresses natural gas plant manufacture, exploration, studies and import opportunities; to reflect the belief that natural gas needs to play a role in its upcoming energy transition.

What this more regional outlook also brings is a more collaborative approach to something that effects every country in the world. For many nations in Latin America, they feel left out of global conversations around energy security and progress, despite contributing drastically fewer emissions to the world than their larger compatriots. This has led to calls from countries like Trinidad and Tobago and Panama, for more support in their energy transition efforts.

Young concluded: “We are combating COVID, trying to carry out social programmes, and trying to look after our citizens, all while making commitments on this energy front.

“The only way to save this planet is collectively, and developing countries need support from larger neighbours so we can make the most of our energy sources. In our case, natural gas is absolutely key to that conversation and we’re convinced that the global energy transition can’t be achieved without it.”

The Latin America & Caribbean Gas Conference (LGC) took place online on November 2021.