Natural gas will surpass coal as the second-largest global energy source behind oil by 2030, even as overall global demand for energy jumps 35 percent from 2005 levels, oil company Exxon Mobil said on Thursday.
That energy demand growth will be almost entirely in developing economies, where usage will climb 70 percent, while developed economies will see essentially flat demand because of improvements in energy efficiency, Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded company, said in its annual energy outlook.
"Exxon Mobil will continue to invest in technology and innovation to develop new economic energy supplies to help meet this demand while looking for ways to reduce environmental impacts," said Rex W. Tillerson, the company's chairman and chief executive officer.
"The forecasts also show a shift toward natural gas as businesses and governments look for reliable, affordable and cleaner ways to meet energy needs."
New supplies of gas, including the shale rock fields that are now being tapped across North America, and its lower environmental impact versus other fuels, will drive that higher demand.
Exxon and its peers such as Chevron have invested heavily in large natural gas developments in recent years.
The forecast was largely unchanged from last year, which also forecast 35 percent energy growth. Exxon Mobil uses the forecast to plan its investment decisions.
BP said last week primary energy use will grow by nearly 40 percent over the next 20 years, with 93 percent of the growth coming from countries that are not part of the OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development).
Exxon said power generation is the fastest growing major energy-demand sector and will contribute 55 percent of the total growth in demand through 2030, bringing its share of total energy demand to 40 percent.
Global electricity demand will rise by 80 percent, with countries outside the OECD seeing growth of 150 percent, Exxon said.
Natural gas is expected to meet 25 percent of the world's electricity needs, helped by environmental policies that put a cost on CO2 emissions.
Alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar and biofuels will grow about 10 percent per year through 2030, but will still contribute only about 2.5 percent of total global energy supplies, Exxon said.
Exxon forecast developed countries will see economic growth of around 60 percent over the next two decades while keeping energy demand relatively flat.
© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.