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Shell steps on the natural gas

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For the first time more than half the energy giant’s profits have not come from oil. The shift reflects a gas revolution

Danny Fortson Published: 9 June 2013

Three months ago at a shipyard in Rotterdam, Daniela Voser, the wife of Shell’s chief executive, smashed a champagne bottle on the hull of a river barge.

The Greenstream lacks the grandeur of a cruise ship, but its launch was notable nonetheless. It is the first vessel built to run on liquefied natural gas. It produces a quarter of the carbon dioxide and a fifth of the nitrous oxide typically emitted from barges powered by fuel oil.

The gas powers electric engines, which means the boat is much less noisy, too. The Greenstream is the Toyota Prius of marine transport.

Peter Voser sees it as a glimpse of the future. “The shale gas revolution gets us 250 years’ reserves at current consumption, and will be a cornerstone of any policy going forward,” he said last week. “We’re investing a lot in gas, including new uses, such as transport.”

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