The Natural Gas Revolution

Posted by alvina on June 30th, 2019

The Natural Gas Revolution is upon us. With words like climate change, carbon footprint and emissions hanging in the air for decades, the search for alternative fuel sources has been ongoing. Since 2010, Natural Gas has been considered the most viable and naturally available alternative.

Natural gas is an organic resource made up of a number of gaseous compounds and found underground. The dominant component of Natural Gas is Methane. It has no colour and no odour, and though it produces greenhouse gases when burning, these emissions are still half that of coal. Comparison is often made between Natural Gas and Shale Gas.

Shale Gas is what is known as an ‘Unconventional Gas’ and is stored in bedrock deep beneath the earth’s surface, much like coal. The process of fracking is used to extract the gas from Shale bedrock. This is a rigorous and forceful hydraulic process that shatters rocks – the same process used to mine oil. The concern is that the severity of this process does not allow for adequate control measures. Methane in its purest state, is hazardous to the environment. It is a pure greenhouse gas with close to 25% higher pollution potential than carbon dioxide. Herein lies the distinction. What experts call ‘fugitive emissions’ of unburned Methane gas, is the potential risk present when fracking for Shale Gas. Still, these concerns have not garnered enough attention to halt the progress of gas field developments across the globe.

Gas field development and the Energy Triangle

While the largest natural gas fields of potential and existing gas stores are mostly located in Africa, Russia and the Middle East, attentions are currently on the Mediterranean, on a region that represents an agreement between Cyprus, Israel and Greece, known as the Energy Triangle.

The Energy Triangle is made up of gas fields, Aphrodite (Cyprus); and Leviathan and Tamar (existing Israeli gas fields). In April this year, Greek Energy firm, Energean discovered gas stores offshore in Israel’s North Karish region. Since the discovery, International Energy giants seeking commercial interests offshore, have been preparing bids for exploration rights to the region. Among them are US power players American Oil and ExxonMobil. The deadline is set for 17 June 2019.

Texas-based company, Noble Gas, currently holds the rights to mine block 12 – the region of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone where the Aphrodite Gas Field is located - rich in Natural Gas. Noble has held the rights to commercial development since 2011. Russia and China currently hold position as two of the largest oil and gas controls in the world. However, the US still leads with more holdings than any other single country. Considering the threat of a trade war currently rumoured between the leading economies of USA and China, and the increasing demand for liquid gas supply worldwide, the decision of the bid could have considerable and far-reaching implications on international trade.

Meanwhile, Israel has plans of its own to build relationships closer to home. It is set to initiate supply of Natural Gas to the value of billion to neighbours, Egypt and Jordan, with whom it has shared historically tenuous ties. Further plans are in process to establish a pipeline of estimated 2000km in length, for supply to Europe.

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