Energy Dialogues had the opportunity to speak with Guy Braden at GDF Suez…
…ahead of the North American Gas Forum to discuss their view on the natural gas sector, where the market is heading and what the opportunities are ahead.
Monika Simões, Energy Dialogues: The shale gas boom in the US has in recent years completely transformed supply and demand dynamics. What do you foresee as future shifts in the regional and global gas sector?
Guy Braden, GDF Suez: Just as nature abhors a vacuum, markets hate large arbitrage and will move to resolve large economic disparities. I don’t like making predictions that appear too specific so to keep rather general, I think we will see more rationalization in the large spreads in gas pricing both regionally and globally. We have already begun to see the gears turning on this: US LNG exports, Japanese nuclear restarts, potential opening of Mexican energy market to outside investment, growing gas demand in US industrial, generation and transport sectors, the potential loosening of a certain large gas monopoly are but just a few examples. But despite these apparent movements, I do not think the process will be steady or predictable. Change can and does come very quickly in this complex global economy of ours and I think it is very naïve to think that we have seen the last of transforming technological advances or global crisis (manmade or otherwise) that drastically alter the course of our industry. A quick look in the rearview mirror should help remind us of this.
Monika Simões, Energy Dialogues: In which sector do you see the biggest potential for natural gas use in North America?
Guy Braden, GDF Suez: The obvious answer to this in the near term is the power generation sector. What gives me pause though in answering this way is the unbounded term implied by the question and the reluctance of the power industry to put all of its eggs in one basket, especially one as historically volatile as natural gas. Over a long time horizon, I think natural gas has great potential in the transportation sector.
Monika Simões, Energy Dialogues: There seems to be an ongoing debate around whether natural gas is the future fuel or merely a bridge fuel; how does GDF Suez Gas NA see the importance of natural gas evolve?
Guy Braden, GDF Suez: For the GDF Suez Gas NA planning horizon, there really is no distinction between bridge and future fuel…natural gas will be a significant form of energy for as far out into the future as our planning considers. If it is a bridge fuel, the bridge is likely quite long.
Monika Simões, Energy Dialogues: GDF Suez NA is participating in the North American Gas Forum – where do you see the key benefits of the forum to GDF Suez Gas NA and on a broader scale how can the North American Gas Forum contribute to advancing the natural gas sector and emphasizing important industry dialogue?
Guy Braden, GDF Suez: The value of the Forum is that it brings senior decision makers from a wide cross section of the industry, including government and academia, to discuss different perspectives of an industry that now has more dimensions than ever before. There are so many different things going on in our industry, it is important to be aware of them and get to know who the people are that are working on them. The Forum needs to continue to organize the right mix of topics and people that industry participants find are relevant and worthy of their time committal.