The natural gas sector needs to be mindful of its sustainability credentials

David A. Wood

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Despite substantial growth in demand for natural gas, building of infrastructure and prevailing low wholesale prices, some energy-industry stakeholders are now questioning the long-term sustainability of the natural gas industry. This is due, in part, to it being a fossil fuel with associated greenhouse gas emissions, and its very poor long-term historical track record regarding gas flaring and fugitive methane and other light-hydrocarbon gas emissions. However, major environmental concerns have also arisen regarding the development of unconventional natural gas resources using hydraulic fracture stimulation, its large environmental and community impacts, water usage and potential contamination and induced seismic activity leading to increased surface impacts. There are however a number of technological opportunities identified and available for deployment for a number of years that could enable the industry to improve its sustainability credentials. Seriously developing these opportunities could convince public opinion that the natural gas sector should be part of long-term plans to develop and maintain a near-zero emissions energy sector. Most of the identified opportunities are obvious, such as eliminating flaring, improving production efficiency by gaining a better understanding of sub-surface reservoirs and fluid movements, and reducing its surface footprints, carbon capture sequestration and utilization, and more collaboration with the renewables sector to build hybrid power and energy storage plants. It is imperative for the natural gas sector’s long-term future that it fully embraces these opportunities and makes them visibly contribute to more eco-friendly energy supply-chain developments.

Cited as: Wood, D.A. The natural gas sector needs to be mindful of its sustainability credentials. Advances in Geo-Energy Research, 2020, 4(3): 229-232, doi: 10.46690/ager.2020.03.01.


Natural-gas sustainability; gas flaring/fugitive emissions; water usage contamination; fracture stimulation; induced seismicity; enhanced recovery; carbon capture sequestration utilization

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