Top executives from the world’s leading energy players including TotalEnergies, Chevron and ExxonMobil have termed natural gas as a key transition fuel for the foreseeable future, with potential to replace coal in many developing economies.

Nigel Hearne, President for Chevron’s Eurasia Pacific Exploration & Production business, told the 23rd World Petroleum Congress in Houston that “natural gas is and remains the cleanest of the fossil fuels and it will underpin transitions".

“It will provide greater energy security and achieve lower carbon targets," he said.

Hearne added that natural gas will also prove to be “feedstock for manufacturing new sources of hydrogen in association with carbon capture storage".

He said that global natural gas demand is expected to increase by 38% between 2020 and 2050, underlining its critical role as part of the energy transition.

Herne noted that natural gas would help accelerate the transition and displace coal to decarbonise the existing energy system and ensure an affordable and reliable energy resource that supports low carbon transition.

David Mendelson, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Business Development at TotalEnergies E&P business, echoed Herne’s views and said that gas-based “electrification will play a key role in the future energy mix".

“We must do away as quickly as possible with the reliance on coal in power generation, which emits twice as much CO2 as gas to generate the same amount of power,” Mendelson noted.

Mendelson said the world needs to meet the growing demand for energy and at the same time, significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

He said that in line with the company’s energy transition plans, half of TotalEnergies production growth from 2020 to 2030 will come from liquefied natural gas and the other half from electricity essentially from renewables.

In 2030, TotalEnergies sees its sales evolving to 50% gas, 35% oil and biomass, and 15% from electricity.

The company plans to invest between $13 billion to $15 billion per year through 2025 to meet its goals.

“Half of that investment will be focused on renewables and electricity and the other half focused on gas mainly LNG,” he said.

On the back of increased gas and renewables share, TotalEnergies expects to cut its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas net emissions by 40% by the year 2030.

Peter Clarke, Senior Vice President of ExxonMobil Upstream Oil & Gas Company, said that natural gas is already playing a very critical role in the energy transition.

Clarke said that in US alone the power sector has achieved substantial emissions reductions over the past seven years by switching generation from coal to gas.

“And there are there are many more locations around the world where meaningful reductions can be made,” he said.

He said that while leaning into the future, ExxonMobil sees great potential to expand a natural gas value chain with CCS to create low-cost carbon zero-carbon fuels, and hydrogen, which can heavily decarbonise sectors such as industry and commercial transportation.