Back to Insights

Insights by

James Christian
James Christian

Managing Partner EMEA


24 June 2024

The important role of gas in a secure and sustainable energy future

The need for energy security is driving a more balanced energy transition, and creating new leadership opportunities for traditional energy sector talent. What opportunities await you?


At a glance:

  • Energy affordability and security are key factors shaping the energy markets in 2024.
  • Natural gas plays an important role in achieving a more balanced energy transition.
  • A more balanced approach to the energy transition also broadens the talent pool to include leaders with highly transferrable traditional energy sector skills.

In the journey to net zero, the global energy sector remains focused on transitioning to cleaner, greener energy. But with soaring energy prices and considerable geopolitical instability, particularly in Europe, energy security remains both a driver and a challenge in enabling this transition.

“The energy transition provides an opportunity for the energy sector to build a more sustainable energy system that is less impacted by the volatility of traditional energy markets. But getting there won’t be easy, and a more nuanced approach may be needed,” says James Christian, Managing Partner EMEA. “Although the production, processing and transportation of natural gas isn’t carbon neutral, it is less carbon intensive than other traditional fuels. As we’re sitting on an abundance of natural gas globally, this resource will continue to play an important role in diversifying the energy mix and safeguarding the security and affordability of energy throughout the energy transition.”

Here we explore the changing dialogue around natural gas, and some of the challenges and opportunities that a balanced energy transition brings for traditional energy sector leaders.

The enduring role of gas in the green energy transition

Renewable energy is essential for decarbonising the energy sector, but, realistically, during the transition the grid can never be entirely powered by weather-dependent energy sources like solar and offshore wind.

“Planning and investing only in renewables can’t provide the security that’s needed to reliably meet demand, and the price and supply issues that we’ve seen during the past year have shown some cracks in this approach,” says James. “There will always be a base load energy requirement that needs to be met when renewables can’t reliably or sufficiently power up the grid, and only a balanced transition can ensure this energy security. During the transition, the base load will likely come from relatively clean traditional energy markets, like LNG, while supply from renewables grows.”

Forecasting recently issued by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) recognises continued demand for LNG, predicting a surge in projects coming online from late 2024 – equivalent to a 40% LNG capacity increase in just five years. This significant growth is expected to continue from 2025 through to 2028, with close to five times as much new capacity coming onlinecompared to the previous four-year period. Shell also anticipates further growth in LNG driven by declining coal use in China, leading to more than a 50% increase in global demand by 2040, peaking at 625-685 million tonnes per year.

Recognising the need for diversity in the energy mix and the enduring role of LNG in supporting the green energy transition, many countries are defining clearer strategies for this important resource:

  • Australia recently issued its Future Gas Strategy, detailing the role that gas will play in supporting the transition to net zero.
  • Natural gas will continue to play a supporting role in decarbonising the US energy sector, boosting supply to the grid beyond the capacity of renewables and aiding further coal plant decommissioning.
  • The Powering Up Britain Energy Security Plan also outlines the declining, but still significant role that natural gas will play in securing the UK’s energy system.

Funding the transition through traditional energy markets

The need for continued investment into renewable energy technologies is another factor driving a more balanced energy transition. As a region, the Middle East provides a unique example of this approach.

“By continuing to focus on oil and gas production in the short to medium term, the GCC nations are reinvesting capital into talent development, technology and innovation for renewable and transitioning energy technologies, such as Hydrogen” James says. “While these companies continue to make healthy returns from traditional energy assets, they are also supporting longer term net zero goals. In terms of talent, investment and innovation, this region should not be overlooked for its role in progressing the energy transition.”

Talent challenges and opportunities

Gerard Daniels continues to partner with clients and candidates in all regions, and remains focused on traditional oil and gas, along with clean and transitioning energy markets. The diversity of our experience provides unique perspective on how the transition is developing in different parts of the world, and how business leaders are shaping their current and future energy strategies.

“During the past 6-12 months many clients have shifted their focus from strictly renewables to a more balanced transition, with natural gas as a key pillar. This strategy has allowed executives from traditional backgrounds who were potentially overlooked in recent years, to find new and challenging opportunities across the energy value chain,” says James. “The shift towards a balanced transition has also created a broader talent pool of candidates with highly transferrable traditional energy sector skills, ready to help the energy sector meet both current and future challenges.”

Gerard Daniels continues to work across the energy sector building deep and diverse talent networks; advising on talent strategies; engaging in market mapping; guiding successful executive appointments; and enhancing the performance of Boards and executive leadership teams.

For help shaping your energy transition approach, connect with James or reach out to your local Gerard Daniels team.

Subscribe to Gerard Daniels Insights

Our monthly look at the critical thinking behind Executive Search & Leadership.

Our Expertise

Industry Sectors


About Us

2024 © Gerard Daniels. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy - Cookie Policy - Covid Policy

Picture of the author

This website makes use of cookies to enhance the browsing experience and provide additional functionality.