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Bits and pieces: European gas

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The full article from Lloyd’s Register can be found in the January 2013 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering.

Natural gas offers one answer to Europe’s energy needs, but in order to be truly effective, industry will need to invest in new and improved technologies and the EU must adopt a unified approach to securing its natural gas supply, which will increasingly come from third countries. The current fragmented marketplace hinders progress all round.

A natural choice

While the continent’s long term future could lie with renewable energy sources, many of the associated technologies are still in the experimental stage. The rate of growth in global energy demand is clearly outpacing the development of energy technologies such as wind, tidal power and solar, or the capturing of hydrocarbons from industrial emissions. Natural gas, as part of the energy mix, appears to answer the global economy’s urgent need for sustainable energy development today and tomorrow.

Tapping in through technology

Developments in technology will play a key role in securing supplies of natural gas. Industry research cites that approximately 85 trillion m3 of natural gas fields worldwide are reported to be ‘stranded’; they cannot be harvested economically as plain, straight out of the ground gas. That could all change by converting the gas to a liquid form and making use of offshore floating technology.

Natural gas as fuel

Natural gas is emerging as a significant source of cleaner propulsion for the global shipping industry, a market led by European policy. The trend is driven by several factors: new emissions regulations, actual or predicted societal and customer preferences for cleaner fuels, high oil prices and expanding supplies of natural gas.

Natural gas as energy

Away from shipping, using natural gas to generate power is another likely growth area, with the benefits of fast ‘switch on’ time and operational flexibility. Existing gas infrastructure and storage methods mean power can be modulated. Gas fired turbines and existing gas systems also provide a natural fit for back up power generation. Electricity production from renewables can fluctuate, meaning that the industry needs a steady reserve of power to call on.


Whereas North America is planning its economic future based on self sufficiency in raw hydrocarbons, the reverse is true in Europe; consumers will need increasing volumes of imports. The integration of markets, technologies and innovations is essential if natural gas is to provide a sustainable energy source for years to come. Gas is no longer restricted by sea. The rapid development of LNG technologies has changed the industry, raising hopes for an all out globalisation of the gas business.

The full article from Lloyd’s Register can be found in the January 2013 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering.

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