The increased use of natural gas will transform the global energy outlook as it is more affordable and cleaner than other sources, BP chief executive Tony Hayward said.

Natural gas will play a key role in the global power sector in the coming years as gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, Hayward said at the 24th World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

BP estimates that unidentified or undeveloped unconventional gas could contribute a further 4,000trn cubic feet to gas resources in the next few years, an additional 60% on top of present proven gas reserves.

Hayward said that carbon needed to be removed from the present energy mix, which could be achieved through a diverse energy supply in the power sector.

But until renewables gain a sizeable share of the power sector and cleaner coal is available through capture and storage there needs to be increased use of natural gas, Hayward said.

“Using technology available today, greater use of natural gas can provide the quickest, most realistic path to achieving the largest emissions reductions at the lowest cost.”

Although CCS technology development will help develop cleaner burning coal, Hayward said that this path faces significant challenges.

“I don’t believe we’ll see the commercial use of CCS at scale for at least another decade or more and it won’t come without a price,” he said.

Gas produces 50% less carbon per kW/h than coal and was the only hydrocarbon that saw a rise in consumption in OECD and non-OECD countries in 2008.