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Molecules May 2022: Editorial – James Watson, Eurogas Secretary General

Dear readers,

Welcome to this edition of Molecules. Things have continued to move quickly in Brussels as the EU institutions respond to the invasion of Ukraine. As the aggression continues, our thoughts remain very much with the Ukrainian people. We thank Naftogaz of Ukraine COO, Mavriky Kalugin, for joining our recent General Assembly to update us and advise on how we can best respond.

Following the lead of the European Commission, we are working to address the impacts of the invasion on the security of gas supply. Diversification away from Russia remains high on the EU agenda and we greatly appreciate the Commission’s efforts on REPowerEU. We were particularly pleased to see proposed targets for 35bcm biomethane and 20mt of green hydrogen by 2030. While not a fix-all solution, efforts to ramp up renewable gas production, and imports, will go a long way towards security of supply and decarbonisation of the gas network.

On the morning of June 14th, we will support the EU-US task force on energy security, focused on LNG. This group will start work on an industry pathway to deliver the additional 15bcm needed this year. There are bottlenecks to address around securing volumes, while ensuring a clear and workable framework for continued emissions reductions.

The coal- and oil-to-gas switch cannot be side-lined. Each year, emissions from coal mines exceed those from the oil and gas sectors. That’s before we mention air quality or the immediate emission reductions our technology readiness offers. Gases have a future in a fully decarbonised energy system and gas infrastructure will reduce the costs of the transition.

REPowerEU sets the course for the replacement of huge volumes of Russian gas. Renewable gas will go some way, as will imports and domestic production, but we really do not have the luxury of excluding any option. Our energy systems are going to go through a massive overhaul in the coming years. Sensible planning would factor in the role for CCUS now. With our call for renewable gas targets approaching the point of being realised, we reiterate our call for a binding EU 2030 target to reduce the GHG intensity of gas consumed by at least 20%. Wouldn’t a smart next step be targets for CCUS infrastructure? Our Senior Policy Advisor, Victor Bernabeu, outlines this perfectly in this recent article.  

In May, we were reenergised by our first in-person General Assembly since 2019, and new additions to our Governing Board: Paolo Gallo of Italgas, Vanja Lombar of Geoplin, and Laura Rejón from Repsol. Paolo Gallo has been the CEO of the Italian distribution system operator since 2016. With a background in evaluation of investments, he recently turned his focus to digital re-engineering and a strategic plan for Italgas’ digital transformation. Vanja Lombar of Geoplin has more than twenty years’ experience in international corporations including Bosch Thermotechnik and OMV Slovenia. This year, she became General Manager of Geoplin d.o.o. Ljubljana, and we’re delighted she will share her expertise with us. We welcome Laura Rejón, Repsol’s Head of Wholesale & Trading for Natural Gas and LNG, and VP of Repsol Energy North America Corporation. Laura also brings more than 20 years’ experience having previously led Repsol’s Credit Risk Division. On behalf of the Secretariat, and the broader membership, we thank you for your commitment and look forward to working closely with you. We must also thank our outgoing Board Member, Marcus Newborough of ITM Power. Marcus has brought an important perspective to our board in recent years and always shown great dedication to Eurogas. Thank you, Marcus!

In keeping with the theme of new additions, welcome to our new Member, Project Canary, whose technology allows for methane detection down to <0.1 grams per second. They have very kindly contributed an article to explain that.

There is more to come in the month ahead. We’ll be hosting our Annual Conference, Moving forward to Decarbonisation on June 14th. Tune in for a discussion on maritime transport, heating, industry and a special panel on the importance of skills and training to forward the energy transition.

Thanks for reading, and stay well,
James Watson 
Eurogas Secretary General