Natural gas, the fuel of the future
Demand for energy grows year-on-year, as the developing world adopts more technology into everyday life. Much of the energy generated to power household and industrial electronics comes from coal power stations. Known for their pollutive and inefficient energy production, this technology is beginning to find itself obsolete with mounting press from the global community to reduce carbon emissions and create cleaner air for a more stable world.
Despite the incentives generated by local governments to move away from fossil fuels, right now we remain dependent on their ready availability until we make better use of more friendly means. Natural Gas in particular is becoming a more popular solution, delivering 50% less carbon dioxide for every unit of energy generated. As we begin weening ourselves off coal, energy suppliers are looking to fill the space now created.
Off the coast of Western Australia, the Browse Basin is about to receive two vast visitors looking to extract some of its 15.9 trillion cubic feet of dry gas and 436 million barrels of condensate. Shell's gigantic Prelude platform, the world’s largest offshore facility, displaces as much water as six aircraft carriers. It will be joined by Inpex’s huge offshore semi-submersible platform and its floating storage and off-loading facility named Venturer.
Huge investment has been made in these new facilities to ensure they can survive the inhospitable conditions found just off the coast of Western Australia. Both will become major contributors to the 177 trillion cubic feet (tcf) or 5,012 billion cubic metres needed globally by 2040.
Extraction should have already commenced, but technical difficulties and spiralling costs have hampered both launches. Shares in both businesses have held with production just around the corner. The potential supply is so vast it could allow Australia to overtake Qatar to become the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas. This opportunity is for the moment keeping the projects on track.
Image: ©Royal Dutch Shell