The boom in natural gas production will continue over the next few decades and by 2040 electricity generated from natural gas will account for a quarter of the world's energy supply, Exxon Mobil has predicted.

According to Lynne Lachenmyer, a senior vice president at Exxon Mobil, who spoke at the annual Petrochemical and Maritime Outlook Conference in Pasadena, Calif., last week, natural gas is gaining ground in the power sector, which has traditionally been dominated by coal. Over the coming decades things are likely to change and natural gas will overtake coal as an energy source, to occupy the second position after oil. Over a period of 30 years, the demand for natural gas is predicted to grow by an astonishing 65 percent, Lachenmyer said.

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The main factor behind this increase is the fact that many people see natural gas as the perfect option for producing transportation fuel. This is leading to the use of compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas for large fleets and, because this is happening at a much faster rate than other changes in the energy sector, natural gas actually boosts its share every year, she commented.

Energy from renewable sources is also expected to grow over the next 30 years. For example, wind power is set for a seven percent annual growth, while the prevalence of solar power will be seven times greater than it is today, predictions show. However, it will still account for a relatively small proportion of the global energy mix, barely reaching two percent of the total. By contrast, oil and natural gas will hold a 60 percent share of the world's energy supply, Lachenmyer concluded.