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Natural gas industry preps to meet demand

By CASEY JUNKINS

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — By 2040, global energy demand should increase by about 25 percent — which is roughly equivalent to the total energy used today in North America and Latin America — according to natural gas industry leaders.

However, officials with Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute do not believe this means there will be more air pollution from electricity generation, as they highlight the fact that carbon dioxide emissions are declining at the same time the industry is producing more natural gas.

“As economies expand around the world, energy demand will increase as more people seek higher standards of living,” William Colton, vice president of corporate strategic planning for Exxon, said. “Humanity’s dual challenge is to meet growing energy demand while managing the risk of climate change.”

According to Exxon’s “2017 Outlook for Energy” report, the global population is expected to grow by nearly 2 billion by 2040, while emerging economies in nations such as China, India and Indonesia will continue to grow. The report states 55 percent of energy demand will be tied directly to electricity generation in support of an increasingly digital society.

Average electricity use per household will increase about 30 percent by 2040, according to the study. However, the share of the world’s electricity generated by coal is expected to fall to about 30 percent by 2040, which would be down from approximately 40 percent in 2015.

The number of motor vehicles on the road is projected to increase by 80 percent to 1.8 billion by 2040, which will also drive energy demand. However, API President and CEO Jack Gerard believes his industry is ready to help meet the need, largely because of constantly improving technologies for fracking and horizontal drilling.

“The oil and natural gas industry’s innovation in the decades-old technique of hydraulic fracturing, paired with horizontal drilling, is the driving force for the American energy revolution,” he said. “The oil and natural gas industry stands ready to continue forging solutions that help meet the energy needs of our nation and the world and to work with elected leaders at all levels of government to ensure that the American consumer continues to benefit from affordable and reliable domestic energy.”

Electricity producers such as American Electric Power and FirstEnergy Corp. have gradually been shifting their main generation fuel from coal to natural gas, which results in lower carbon dioxide emissions. Gerard expects this to continue, despite promises from President-elect Donald Trump to use more coal.

“America no longer has to choose between more energy and a cleaner environment. The U.S. has dramatically increased energy production and use even as emissions continue to decline,” Gerard said. “We now know oil and natural gas are part of the solution.”

One company that continues investing significantly in the Ohio and West Virginia shale fields is Denver-based Antero Resources. The company’s capital budget for 2017 is $1.5 billion, which is an increase of $100 million from last year, while the company also expects to grow its daily natural gas production by about 25 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Locally, Antero works in Belmont and Monroe counties in Ohio and in Marshall and Wetzel counties in West Virginia.

“While we plan to live within cash flow from a drilling and completion capital standpoint in 2017, we are forecasting a more-than-50-percent increase in consolidated cash flow from operations in 2018,” Antero President and Chief Financial Officer Glen Warren said regarding the company’s future.

See more from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register

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