By Andrew Callus
LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch/Shell believes a policy-led shift to gas, carbon capture and nuclear power could keep a lid on climate change into the 22nd century while a more free market approach would result in carbon emissions some 25 percent higher.
Sketching possible paths of development for global energy use, Shell, which has bet the most heavily of all the top oil firms on a big future for natural gas, promoted its use as a way to moderate greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2100.
It also suggested: measures to promote compact and energy efficient cities; mandates for greater efficiency in transport and buildings; and a price on CO2 emissions that would speed the adoption of carbon capture technology.
In its first "moderate growth" scenario, called "Mountains", Shell said, "Cleaner-burning natural gas becomes the backbone of the world's energy system, in many places replacing coal as a fuel for power generation and seeing wider use in transport". Oil use might peak in about 2035, and thanks in part to CO2 capture, the power sector could be producing zero emissions by 2060.
In its "more prosperous, volatile world" called "Oceans" where markets forces and civil society dominate, Shell envisages the power sector becoming emissions neutral some 30 years later with oil demand continuing to grow until after 2040 and high energy prices encouraging "the development of hard-to-reach oil resources".
Shell is the world number three investor-owned international oil and gas company by market value, behind Exxon Mobil and Chevron and ahead of BP, but it is the market leader in liquefied natural gas (LNG), a growth area of the natural gas industry, and it is set to extend that lead over the next few years.
On a barrel of oil equivalent basis, its fourth-quarter 2012 production was about half gas, a similar proportion to Exxon and a far higher one than both BP and Chevron.