Natural gas produces significantly lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than coal for power generation and is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel. It is an essential energy source in the transition to a lower-carbon energy system.

3%Our share of the world’s gas production in 2014

51.8%Share of our production that was natural gas in 2014

10%Our share of the world’s LNG sold in 2014

The International Energy Agency says that there are enough recoverable natural gas resources to last around 230 years at current consumption levels. Natural gas can play a significant role in reducing CO2 emissions in the coming decades. It produces around half the greenhouse gas emissions of coal throughout its life cycle, from production to its use as fuel in generating electricity.

The CO2 emissions from gas can be further reduced with carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS could remove up to 90% of CO2 emissions from power generation and play a key role in moving towards a lower-carbon future. As more countries make commitments to cut CO2 emissions, displacing coal with natural gas in power plants can be the most affordable route to achieving CO2 reduction targets.

Tubes at Sakhalin-2 LNG plant, Sakhalin, Russia (photo)
Sakhalin-2 is more energy efficient
than an average liquefied natural
gas plant. Sakhalin, Russia.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report states that global CO2 emissions can be reduced significantly by replacing today’s standard coal-fired power plants with modern, highly efficient natural gas power plants.

Gas also emits less sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxides and small particles that pollute the air when compared with coal. Since gas-fired plants can start and stop more quickly than coal-fired plants they are more flexible, so they can serve as back-up systems to maintain a steady flow of electricity when intermittent renewable energy, such as solar and wind, is used. Gas is therefore ideally positioned to play a key role in the energy transition, by displacing coal and complementing renewables.

Gas makes up more than half of Shell’s total production and is used by our customers to generate electricity, power industrial production, heat homes and fuel ships and trucks. In 2014, Shell announced a succession of deep-water gas discoveries off the coasts of Gabon and Malaysia. Further exploration and appraisal work at these sites are planned. To read more about some of our gas projects see “Tight gas and oil” and “Iraq”.