Five ways oil and gas will continue to play a role as the energy mix evolves

Sometimes it’s hard to sort out the torrent of information that comes our way from multiple sources.

Take energy transition. Most people agree with the need to transition to cleaner energy sources. But, even among those who agree, there’s a vast range of voices and opinions on the matter.

For instance, Dr. Vaclav Smil, who’s one of the world’s leading thinkers on energy transition, agrees that climate change is a global issue. But, his research leads him to conclude it’s wishful thinking to expect energy transition will occur quickly.

In this week’s blog post, we look at five ways oil, natural gas and the pipelines that transport them will continue to play important roles for decades to come as the energy mix evolves.


1. Cleaner burning fuel for cleaner air


We know that natural gas gives off less carbon dioxide emissions than coal or oil. And, that makes it an energy source that’s especially important for countries that need cleaner-burning fuels so people can breathe clean air. So, it’s not surprising that in a June 2019 report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasted that in the next five years 40 per cent of the demand for natural gas will come from China. Cleaner-burning Canadian natural gas can play a big role as the world transitions to cleaner burning fuels.


2. Help to ‘power’ the move to clean energy options


Natural gas will also help power the movement away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy options, such as electrification. This change will take time and natural gas will continue to play a role as a cleaner-burning supplement when renewable energy isn’t available in reliable supply.


3. Pipelines to deliver alternative fuels, such as hydrogen


In Canada, industry and governments are looking into ways to safely and efficiently use hydrogen to deliver clean energy through the existing Canadian pipeline system. In the U.K., pilot projects to launch a hydrogen network will use the current gas pipeline system for its delivery. This is part of their plan to reach a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.


4. Transporting captured carbon dioxide


Pipelines will transport carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere for reuse or storage. This will play an important part in reducing emissions and increasing environmentally responsible Canadian energy supply.


5. Manufacture of clean energy infrastructure


Petro-chemical products from oil and natural gas liquids will continue to be essential ingredients in new renewable energy production facilities, including solar and wind.


Dr. Smil calls himself an “energy realist” – he’s someone who has deep understanding of the science around climate change. But he also studies historical energy trends. And he’s realistic about how long it will take to make the complex transition to clean energy.

Want to know more about Dr. Smil’s thoughts on the energy transition? Check out our three-part series: