The major challenge facing the global energy system is meeting the rising demand for energy resulting from a growing population and increased living standards while simultaneously reducing the environmental impacts such as pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The scope of the challenge is best illustrated by the fact that one in six of all the people on the planet have no access to electricity. Affordable energy is a human right. We in Shell believe that it is possible to generate more energy while at the same time reducing the impact on the environment.
Natural gas is a flexible fuel which is relatively efficient for electricity generation. A gas-fired plant takes less time to start and stop than a coal-fired plant. This makes gas the ideal partner for intermittent energy sources like wind and solar, especially as gas is currently used to generate over half of our electricity.
We are all well aware of the challenges and uncertainties that influence the supply of gas to Europe and should supply lines be restricted or constrained for periods in the future, those most likely to be hit first and hardest are those on periphery of the continent – that’s us here in Ireland of course. In such circumstances the measure of self-sufficiency that Corrib contributes to Ireland will be critical.
Natural gas is being put to an increasing range of uses. In Ireland, natural gas is mainly used in electricity generation: to power homes and businesses. But new markets are now opening up for natural gas where increasingly it’s being used as an alternative to diesel and heavy fuel oil in transportation.
Natural gas will also help Ireland move to a low-carbon future. Energy Minister Alex White recently stated that the long-term goal for Ireland was to have replaced oil and coal with renewable energy sources by 2050. We believe that natural gas will have a key role in Ireland’s journey to a lower-carbon energy system.
The Corrib development has been a long time in the making. The original discovery well was drilled in 1996 and we expect the first gas to be produced this year. When it does come on stream we will have achieved a really important milestone for the oil and gas sector in Ireland, as well as providing much-needed energy security for the country as a whole.