BP leaders discussed the importance of natural gas to the global energy transition at the 27th World Gas Conference, a triennial gathering of industry executives, government policymakers, gas buyers, gas sellers and subject matter experts.
Held in Washington, DC, from June 25–29, the conference featured more than 600 speakers – including CEOs from around the planet, and government officials such as US Energy Secretary Rick Perry – who covered a variety of topics related to natural gas and public policy.
Among the BP speakers were group chief executive Bob Dudley, Upstream chief executive Bernard Looney, and Orlando Alvarez, head of BP’s North American natural gas and power marketing and trading business.
During a panel discussion with other oil and gas CEOs, Dudley provided a brief overview of the global energy landscape, stressing that energy is essential to human progress and that the world will need a third more energy over the next two decades to meet growing demand.
“The downside of that growth is the pressure it creates through increasing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “That’s why gas is going to be more important than ever as a part of the energy mix.”
Dudley explained that gas is abundant and affordable, and if used instead of coal for power generation it can cut carbon emissions in half.
Orlando Alvarez echoed Dudley’s comments, emphasizing that BP plans to be a leader in the energy transition.
“BP aims to be at the forefront of the global transition to a low-carbon future and is taking steps to reduce its carbon emissions and the methane intensity of its operations,” Alvarez said.
He then discussed the future of the energy mix, noting that natural gas supplies have increased significantly over the past decade.
“The result,” Alvarez said, “is an abundance of clean-burning natural gas at a lower price.”
He also talked about gas in the context of power generation.
“We need a holistic conversation centered around open and competitive markets and fuel-neutral policies,” Alvarez said, “with natural gas as a key component in future electricity generation.
"These are complex issues that require significant stakeholder engagement across the industry. It cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution.”
Bernard Looney’s remarks focused on the role of gas in the energy transition and the need to control methane emissions.
Looney noted that BP is a signatory to the Methane Guiding Principles that were drawn up by a coalition of producers, international gas bodies, NGOs and academics to develop best practices on methane emission reductions.
“In our own operations, we are upgrading our facilities and our techniques to minimize emissions,” he said.
For example, Looney added, BP used to have about 10,000 high-bleed pneumatic controllers spread across 5 million acres in its US Lower 48 onshore gas business.
“We have a major program running to upgrade them and we are down to the last 145,” he said. “And our ground operations are being scanned by methane-detecting cameras, we have got drones in the air pinpointing leaks, and we are looking at methane measurement from space using satellites.”
In the sidelines of the conference, Looney, in a methane Q&A session, told Energy Voice that BP 'wants to be aggressive in tackling and managing methane emissions from our operations.'
Outside of efforts to tackle methane' he told Upstream Online (login required) ithat connecting supply to demand was a big challenge. He said: 'The world has abundant gas resources and high demand, but not in the same places. Where demand is soaring, in China for example, the challenge is to create the infrastructure needed to bring gas to customers.'
He also put the case for gas in helping the energy transition saying it provides 'ideal back-up for renewables, as it can quickly be brought online when there is less sunshine or wind.'
During the conference’s Young Professionals Program panel discussion, Dudley offered career advice to some of the world’s future energy leaders.
“You’ve got to be excited about what you do,” he said. “I was once told that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Dudley also stressed the importance of cultivating strong relationships.
“To build relationships you’ve got to get out there and speak to people, and more importantly, listen sometimes to the quietest voice in the room.”
He closed the session by giving three points of advice to the industry’s future leaders: “Build the best team you can around you; always keep a sense of humour; and stay calm, even in the worst of crisis.”