Natural gas makes up more than half of our total production. We explore for it and produce it both on land and offshore. Shell is one of the world’s leading suppliers of natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG). 

Global demand for gas is on the rise. By 2030, we expect it to increase by 40% from its 2014 level. 

What is natural gas and what is it used for?

Natural gas is the lowest-carbon hydrocarbon, odourless, colourless and non-toxic. It provides warmth for cooking and heating, and it fuels power stations that provide electricity to homes and businesses.

It also fuels many industrial processes that produce materials and goods ranging from glass to clothing, and it is an important ingredient in products such as paints and plastics. 

Shell turns gas into cleaner-burning fuels and other products at our gas-to-liquids plants. We also cool it to -162ºC (-260ºF), making it into a liquid which is easy to ship to energy-hungry places around the world. We offer liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a lower-emission fuel for ships, trucks, buses and trains.

We are working to deliver new supplies of LNG to help meet future demand. For example, we are building the largest floating LNG production facility in the world, Prelude FLNG. It will allow us to access gas fields off the coast of Australia that would otherwise be too costly or difficult to develop, and turn natural gas into LNG to be shipped overseas.

Advantages of natural gas

Natural gas is abundant. If consumption remained at present levels, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates there are enough recoverable resources to last around 230 years.

It is versatile. A gas-fired power station takes much less time to start and stop than a coal-fired plant. This flexibility makes it a good partner to renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind, which are only available when the sun shines and the wind blows.  

Gas is the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon, producing around half the carbon dioxide (CO2) and just one tenth of the air pollutants of coal when burnt to generate electricity. There is enormous potential to reduce near-term CO2 emissions and air pollution by using gas instead of coal.

Gas is now so widely available through LNG, that it can help countries deal with short-term supply disruptions. After the Fukushima disaster, Japan shut down its nuclear reactors and relied on LNG to make up much of its lost electricity supply.

In some cases, it is cheaper to produce gas than coal. The most efficient gas-fired plant has investment costs of $1,100 per kilowatt, according to the IEA, compared with $3,700 for the most efficient coal-fired plant. 

Gas-fired power becomes more competitive again when long-term costs associated with climate change and the impact of air pollution, both on people and the environment, are included.

Gas also has a growing number of uses, including the use of LNG as a lower-emission alternative to diesel and heavy fuel oil in transport.

More in energy and innovation

Gas-to-liquids

Our technology uses natural gas instead of crude oil to make liquid fuels, base oils for lubricants and other high-quality products.

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