Letter from the IGU President

Letter from the IGU President, Mr. George H. B. Verberg

We are entering a period when natural gas has a leading role to play in global energy supply.Mr. George H.B. Verberg, IGU President 2003-2006 (copyright: Gasunie)


In the last century, the keywords which characterised this clean source of heat and power were ‘exploration’, ‘development’, ‘distribution’ and ‘application’. The agenda was dominated by technological issues – in areas like transportation and equipment manufacture – and issues relating to market coverage – which customer groups could use gas. The development phase is by no means over, and both the transport networks and the range of applications are still growing – but for natural gas, infancy and adolescence are long past. Natural gas is now a mature energy source, which will prove its full worth over the next fifty years.


Maturity also brings obligations. Fifty years ago, with rapidly growing populations and rising standards of living, the world was hungry for new energy. Growth was the rallying cry. Today, demand for energy is just as strong, but growth has to be tempered by other considerations. Issues like emissions, efficiency and climate change demand a rational balance and a commitment to utilising natural gas in such a way that it continues to be a welcome source of energy.


The coming triennium, which will culminate in the twenty-third IGU World Gas Conference in Amsterdam in 2006, has as its title: 


Powers the people

Preserves the world 

Promoted by IGU.


‘Powers the people’ is an ambitious slogan which embraces a world of change. Becoming a leading player in the energy arena has brought natural gas automatically into competition both with other fuels and with itself – due, on the one hand, to the growing number of companies operating in the industry and, on the other, to the much greater availability, thanks to the developing infrastructure, both upstream and downstream.


Although the individual energy markets around the world display certain national characteristics, the similarities between them are growing. Natural gas has become a commodity which can traded efficiently, but it’s one which, like other commodities, will only be accepted by the modern consumer if modern marketing concepts are employed. One of the key market requirements is customer orientation – concentrating the strategic focus on tailor-made services and other aspects, such as customer intimacy, which are already familiar from other commercial sectors.


‘Preserves the world’ is also a wide-ranging slogan, and one which refers to an important facet of our programme for the next three years. The gas industry acknowledges its joint responsibility for finding solutions to environmental and climate problems. More than that, the properties of natural gas itself and the opportunities for combining it with renewable forms of energy make it an ideal basis for a successful transition to a sustainable energy future. If we can effectively combine the physical qualities of natural gas with the intellectual and professional qualities of gas specialists and managements, our ambitions can be realised.


The IGU is the ideal network through which to achieve this.


The strategic course which has been plotted by the IGU for the next three years can be summarised in these three main programme objectives:


  1. to promote technology, industry efficiency and customer focus;
  2. to promote natural gas as the fuel of choice preceding a sustainable energy system;
  3. to promote the gas industry’s role as a responsible corporate citizen.

In practical terms, the programme will include such activities as:

  • in-depth discussions with other stakeholders
  • increased focus on benchmarking
    strengthening the IGU, both as an international authority and as an industry representative in the debate on sustainability
  • introducing appropriate business principles and standards worldwide.

I consider it an honour to be the President of the IGU at a time when this programme is being implemented. It is especially pleasing to note that new countries are joining the IGU community. Associate membership has been introduced, which will also help to strengthen the IGU.

Twenty-first century technology and a robust marketing approach will be the pillars supporting natural gas in its challenging and independent role in the sustainable energy world which is evolving. I call on all existing and new members to play their part in this, and I have every confidence that the IGU Working Committees will do a fine job.

Doing so IGU can play its vital role serving as the spokesman for the gas industry worldwide. 

George H. B. Verberg

President, International Gas Union