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CERAWeek 2021: Natural gas and existing network key to energy transition

Tom Droege

Joining other leaders at the world’s largest energy conference, Williams President and CEO Alan Armstrong recently discussed at CERAWeek 2021 the importance of natural gas in accelerating emissions reductions in a pragmatic and cost-effective way.

During a panel titled “Building Tomorrow’s North American Infrastructure,” Pulitzer Prize winning author Daniel Yergin interviewed Armstrong along with Enbridge President and CEO Al Monaco and Jefferies Managing Director and Global Head of Energy Investment Banking Peter Bowden.

The session explored the role that midstream companies and their vast infrastructure networks can play in advancing the transition to a low carbon future while continuing to meet growing demand for reliable, affordable and clean energy.  

“If you really are serious about greenhouse gas emissions reduction and getting there by 2050, we need to be taking advantage of the tools and the technology we have here today,” said Armstrong.

Williams and its natural gas-focused strategy provides an immediate path to reduce industry emissions, support the viability of renewables and grow a clean energy economy. Natural gas is a flexible, lower-emission fuel compared to other hydrocarbons such as coal or heating oil. And, because the U.S. has an abundant supply of natural gas, using this local, cleaner resource has significantly reduced U.S. emissions. Since 2005, Williams infrastructure has helped decrease greenhouse gas emissions by more than 33 million metric tons — the equivalent of removing more than 7 million gasoline-powered cars from the road for a year.

Existing pipeline and storage infrastructure is also well positioned to accommodate emerging energy technology, such as hydrogen. For example, blending hydrogen into the natural gas network represents a significant opportunity to address a key challenge – that is the storage and transport of these types of energy to demand centers that can be far away.

“I would say we have very effective tools here in the U.S. in the way of our natural gas grid, in low-cost natural gas to continue to de-carbonize,” said Armstrong. “If we would look to those opportunities to work together… we have a lot of opportunity.”

Held virtually this year, CERAWeek brought together more than 5,000 delegates from 85 countries to share ideas and discuss solutions to address the biggest challenges facing the future of energy, the environment, and climate. Now in its 39th year, CERAWeek is considered the most prestigious annual gathering of CEOs, executives, and government officials from global power, renewables, infrastructure, automotive, technology, infrastructure, chemicals and financial firms.