Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, says natural gas is the best alternative to coal-fired power generation in many areas.  He adds improving technologies are helping curb methane emissions.

Natural gas under attack by environmentalists

A number of natural gas industry executives said on Tuesday that natural gas could be a permanent solution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change.

Natural gas use is often seen as a stepping stone to the cleaner energy era, filling in the gap between coal and oil and renewables, however, environmentalists have recently called for a faster shift to solar wind and other green energies.

“This idea of natural gas as a transition fuel to renewables is strange,” Reuters reports Total SA Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said Tuesday at the World Gas Conference in Washington.

“Natural gas is a solution (to climate change). It’s been scientifically proven.”

Others on the panel, including ConocoPhillips, BP, Equinor and Qatar Petroleum executives agreed.

“We don’t believe the existential threat to our business is right around the corner,” Conoco CEO Ryan Lance said. “We see rising usage of natural gas.”

Qatar Petroleum is expanding its natural gas output by a third in the coming decade and its Chief Executive, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, told the conference that his company sees demand for natural gas on the rise.

“Human beings need energy. Gas should be seen as a destination fuel not just as a transport fuel or bridge fuel,” said Al-Kaabi.

BP’s CEO Bob Dudley says natural gas is the best alternative to coal-fired power generation in many areas.  He adds that improving technologies are helping to curb methane emissions.

The Environmental Defense Fund released a study last week that found oil and gas drilling emits far more methane that the US government estimates, in large part due to leaky wells that go unnoticed by federal regulators.

Dudley says the industry is doing more to use better technologies to improve methane collection.

“The industry has a problem and the whole industry has to have a better reputation,” Dudley said. “I’m confident on the work we’re doing.”