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Total at WGC 2015: Propelling natural gas to the centre of the future world energy mix

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  • From June 1 to 5, Paris hosted the World Gas Conference 2015. A highlight of this 26th edition was the signing of major climate commitments on the part of key players in this industry.
  • This was also the chance for Total to confirm its role as a change agent and to speak of its major natural gas investments in a world where energy demand continues to increase.
WGC 2015 looking to the COP21

Organized by the International Gas Union (IGU*) every three years, the World Gas Conference (WGC) is a major event that brings together major global players from the gas industry.

This year, Paris hosted the 26th conference from June 1 to 5, under the theme "Sustainable growth for the world natural gas industry".

By coincidence, the WGC has been held only a few months before another eagerly anticipated Paris gathering, the COP21, where international carbon and climate treaties will be negotiated.

Almost all stands in hall 1 at the Paris Expo grounds boasted the words "sustainable", "long-term perspective", or "energy for all" in large letters.

For Laurent Vivier, promoted to President of Total's Gas Division on August 1, the explanation is simple: "This conference takes on a particular dimension within the context of the COP21. In all the statements that have been or will be made during the latter, climate will be mentioned and energy-producing companies will show that they take the topic to heart and want to put forward new ideas. It's new, responsible, and consistent with societal expectations."

Genuine involvement to cope with a global issue?
Patrick Pouyanné - WGC 2015

That was the observation confirmed by Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of Total, the host sponsor of WGC 2015. In his opening remarks to the conference, he stated "I am convinced that the themes covered over the next few days will be able to further the global warming debates to be held next December in Paris. And I would like to say how natural gas, the energy of the future, can contribute to them as well." He stressed how important it is "for the natural gas and oil industry to get involved in the search for solutions".

The call to arms echoes the paying for carbon initiative announced out on Monday June 1. The signatories, six European oil and natural gas companies**, urge governments worldwide as well as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to set up carbon pricing mechanisms. They also call on these governments to create transparent, stable, and ambitious regulatory frameworks in order to tie in their national mechanisms in the long term. The goal is to promote more economically efficient mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions worldwide.

In other words, the challenge is to use carbon pricing to discourage energy projects that emit CO2, namely from coal, as much as possible to help natural gas develop over the long term.

"If Total has chosen natural gas, it's because we are convinced that it is going to play a major role in the future world energy mix".
- Patrick Pouyanné – WGC 2015

To ensure natural gas' place in the future world energy mix, the industry leaders at WGC2015 reiterated its major advantages:

  • abundance: at least 100 years of resources against a backdrop of growing energy demand
  • energy security: natural gas is evenly distributed worldwide
  • lower carbon emissions than other fossil fuels: half those of coal
  • flexibility: natural gas can make up for the intermittency of renewable energies
  • Relatively new: considerable technological progress is expected

These considerations probably explain why, in all scenarios foreseen by the International Energy Agency (IEA), including the most ambitious 2°C or 450 ppm scenarios, fossil resources retain a significant portion of the energy mix.

In conclusion, Patrick Pouyanné expressed the wish that "leading up to the COP21, this 2015 World Gas Conference will mark new international awareness of the role that natural gas is destined to play in meeting world energy needs, while remaining a key element in the fight against climate change".

Not just a wish, also a roadmap.

*The IGU was founded in 1931. Its mission is to promote the technical and economic progress of the global gas industry. The members of IGU are associations and corporations of the gas industry from 77 countries. They represent over 95% of the global gas market and have ties to many other international energy organisations. The IGU has a total of 118 members, including 78 Charter Members and 40 Associate Members.

** BG Group plc, BP plc, Eni S.p.A., Royal Dutch Shell plc, Statoil ASA and Total SA

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