As the world economy attempts to balance burgeoning energy demand with lower carbon emissions, natural gas has become a central pillar of energy strategy in both the developed and developing world. Advances in exploration and production technology have led to newly abundant sources of “unconventional” natural gas in the United States, with implications for policymakers as they look to reduce dependence on imported oil, promote manufacturing and create jobs. Decisions by Germany and Japan to reduce their reliance on nuclear power also have major implications for the global gas market as governments and businesses look for alternative means of power generation. Sustained rapid economic expansion in emerging economies will continue to drive up demand for natural gas, while increased production capacity for liquefied natural gas production in Australasia and the Middle East is already changing the market dynamics of a resource that has historically relied on the politics of pipelines and proximity.
On June 27, the Energy Security Initiative at Brookings hosted the Washington, D.C. launch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s “The Future of Natural Gas,” an examination of the complex and rapidly changing prospects for the global natural gas market, and the role of natural gas in meeting global energy and environmental challenges.
Ernest Moniz, director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and co-chair of the report, and Melanie Kenderdine, executive director of MITEI, presented their findings on the extent of global natural gas reserves, production costs and potential end uses, as well as the geopolitical and environmental implications of a gas-fueled global economy. Following a presentation of the report’s findings, David Goldwyn, nonresident senior fellow with the Energy Security Initiative, moderated a panel discussion. Gerald Kepes, partner and head of Upstream and Gas at PFC Energy and Phil Sharp, president of Resources for the Future, joined the discussion.
After the program, the speakers took audience questions.