IEA launches Unconventional Gas Forum

22 March 2013

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven and IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol at the Unconventional Gas Forum. © OECD/IEA, 2013

The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Friday 22 March 2013 hosted the inaugural meeting of the IEA Unconventional Gas Forum, which gathered more than 100 officials from government, industry, NGOs and international organisations to discuss best practices for the sustainable development of global unconventional natural gas resources.

“Natural gas is poised to enter a golden age, but will do so only if a significant proportion of the world’s vast resources of unconventional gas can be brought to markets in a manner that is both profitable and that addresses the legitimate public concerns about the associated environmental and social impacts,” said IEA Executive Director Maria Van der Hoeven, who welcomed delegates to the event at the IEA’s Paris headquarters.

“The objective of this forum is to enable governments from around the world to share insights, alongside input from industry and other key stakeholders, on operational best practices and regulatory action towards securing the economic, security and other benefits of increasing unconventional gas output,” she added.

IEA Chief Economist Dr. Fatih Birol chaired the inaugural meeting of the forum, which builds on last year’s World Energy Outlook special report, “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas”. The report said that the unconventional gas revolution that has taken hold in North America in recent years could be sustained at home and expanded to other parts of the world only if stakeholders address the social and environmental impacts. To that end, it presented seven “golden rules” – best practices for extracting and producing unconventional gas – that it said would aid industry, governments and other stakeholders to earn and maintain a social license to operate. The “golden rules” underline that full transparency, measuring and monitoring of environmental impacts and engagement with local communities are critical to addressing public concerns.

The forum addressed such topics as methane leakage, water management and working with local communities. Participants came from most IEA member countries, as well as from Algeria, Brazil, China, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, Mexico, Romania, Russia and South Africa. Speakers and participants included high-level representatives from ministries; international organisations and associations; several leading oil and gas companies; NGOs; and the investor community.

Discussions took place under the Chatham House Rule, which fosters free exchange of ideas and maximum possible input. The rule allows use of information shared at the workshop but bars identifying the source or his or her affiliation.

Learn more about the IEA Unconventional Gas Forum