Russia to continue boosting gas output and develop hydrogen production

Russia to continue boosting gas output and develop hydrogen production

The Ministry of Energy of Russia expects global demand for gas to increase in the next decades and anticipates a 50% increase in national gas output by 2035. The country’s energy industry will also focus on clean-burning hydrogen production.

Russia has no plans to rein in its production of natural gas in the coming decades, says The Guardian citing the country’s Minister of Energy Alexander Novak. The minister considers that Russia won’t achieve a peak in gas production anytime soon, as the world’s appetite for gas will continue to grow in the decades ahead despite its growing number of climate targets. “I believe natural gas to be an eco-friendly energy source,” said Novak adding that the share of natural gas in the global energy mix was expected to increase not only in Europe but also globally.

Moscow aims to raise annual gas production from around 680 billion cubic metres in 2019 to 1 trillion cubic metres by 2035. The amount of gas exported via giant super-chilled tankers is meant to increase from 29 million tonnes a year to 120-140 million tonnes. About 200 billion cubic metres of gas will be still supplied to Europe via pipelines including the Nord Stream project.

Simultaneously, Russia is going to increase its share of the global hydrogen market. Hydrogen, which is a clean-burning alternative to traditional fossil fuel gas, can be produced by using renewable energy to split water molecules as well as by splitting off the carbon dioxide from gas through pyrolysis. According to Novak, Russia is able to do both and is also developing technology to capture the carbon emissions created during hydrogen production to produce a genuinely “green” gas. Hydrogen is meant to be transported using the country’s existing gas transport channels. Although hydrogen production has been quite expensive so far, Novak considers that prices will go down over time as they do for renewable energy sources. “To put it briefly, we can produce hydrogen and use it as well as deliver it to consumers. We can also export the hydrogen production technologies,” the minister said.

Russia is also going to increase its share of the global hydrogen market. Photo: Joseph Brent

While developing hydrogen production can help diversify Russia’s fossil fuel economy and contribute to the global goal of reducing emissions, environmental groups have characterised the Kremlin’s climate plans as “critically insufficient”. Russia’s emissions targets under the Paris Agreement are set against the figures of 1990 when the country marked its highest emissions on record. Given the collapse of Soviet-era industries in the early 1990s, it is expected that Russia can easily lower its emissions by 25-30% compared to 1990 by 2030.

Energy economists expect demand for gas to continue to grow, particularly in Asia, as more countries are switching from coal, which emits almost double the carbon dioxide of gas. However, European demand for gas may drop by 8% compared to 2019 levels by the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency.

By Anna Litvina