ExxonMobil official discusses growing energy demand

The global demand for energy is projected to increase by 35 percent between now and 2040, the site manager of ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge chemical plant said Wednesday.

Paul Stratford told the Baton Rouge Rotary Club that the world’s population is only expected to increase by nearly 20 percent during that time period to 8.7 billion people. But improvements in energy efficiency and conservation will hold power consumption down, said Stratford, who has been site manager of the plant since 2010.

Oil, natural gas and coal will be the primary sources of energy, accounting for 77 percent of the market in 2040. That’s down from the 80 percent share that oil, natural gas and coal currently account for. Increased usage of renewable resources, such as wind and solar, account for the drop in fossil fuel usage, Stratford said.

Sometime around 2035, natural gas will account for a greater share of the fossil fuel pie than coal, Stratford said.

While coal usage is projected to remain flat between now and 2040, the use of natural gas will go up by 65 percent, he said.

Ironically, recently there was some speculation that the world could be running out of natural gas. But Stratford said there is evidence that enough natural gas exists to meet U.S. demand for at least 200 years and as much as 500 years.

What has changed is fracking technology and the discovery of massive natural gas fields, such as the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia and the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana, he said.

The increased supply of natural gas has led ExxonMobil to begin a multibillion-dollar expansion at its Baytown, Texas, complex east of Houston, a move that the company said will create 350 permanent jobs and pump $870 million into the local economy. Stratford said he would like to see ExxonMobil do a similar expansion in Baton Rouge, but said nothing is in the short-term plans.