Natural gas — the lowest-carbon fossil fuel — is the best option currently available for combating global warming while ensuring the world has access to the energy it needs. Because although curbing carbon emissions is a top global goal, the challenge is even more urgent in developing countries, notably in Asia, that still depend heavily on coal. According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Sustainable Development Scenario, natural gas consumption will soar between now and 2040, when it is expected to meet one-quarter of global energy demand. Increasing gas’s share of the global energy mix is a key challenge. At Total, we’ve made it a major focus of our strategy.
Our natural gas strategy factors in the climate challenge
Accessible, plentiful and a good partner for renewables, natural gas has many attractive qualities. To make the most of its strengths, we are pursuing a proactive gas strategy with the aim of increasing the share of natural gas in our oil and gas production to 60% by 2035.
As the second largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplier in the world, Total operates across the LNG value chain, from gas production and liquefaction — including projects such as Yamal LNG and Arctic LNG 2 in Russia and Ichthys in Australia — to transportation, regasification and the supply of natural gas to homes and businesses in Europe. We’re also contributing to several FSRU (Floating Storage and Regasification Unit) projects to provide natural gas to our clients worldwide more quickly and flexibly and at lower cost.
Because gas emits only half as much carbon as coal in power generation, another piece of our strategy is to promote gas in this regard. Replacing coal with natural gas in power plants would cut global carbon emissions by 10%. At Total, we permanently halted all coal production in August 2015, and recently acquired several combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants in France.
Last of all, we continue to work on and invest in developing new uses for gas, whether in road transportation with natural gas vehicle (NGV) fuel distributed by Total Gas Mobility in Europe and Clean Energy in the United States, or shipping with LNG bunker fuel under our agreements with CMA CGM Group.
Countering methane emissions
To retain natural gas’s edge over coal, methane emissions must be strictly minimized. Methane has 25 times carbon’s global warming potential over 100 years, despite a life that is only one-quarter as long.
We are therefore taking steps to cut our methane emissions from gas production and transportation and increase our knowledge of methane emissions:
- By making changes to our facilities. Our efforts to limit routine flaring on our platforms have slashed greenhouse gas emissions, including methane emissions, across Total’s operated scope. In 2019, methane emissions from Total’s operated upstream oil and gas facilities represented about 0.20% of the commercial gas produced. We plan to reduce the intensity of methane emissions below this threshold.
- By participating in international initiatives to combat methane emissions. Our work in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) aims to bring technologies that can mitigate methane emissions to market faster. Likewise, we are a partner of the Climate & Clean Air Coalition. Supported by the United Nations, that initiative promotes efforts to measure, reduce and report methane emissions and share best practices. In 2017 Total signed the Methane Guiding Principles for reducing methane emissions across the natural gas value chain.