Gas consumption will continue to outstrip oil for the foreseeable future, further undermining the security of energy supply in Europe, a leading expert has warned.
Against a backdrop of exorbitant crude oil prices and growing geo-political unrest in the Middle East, Russia and Nigeria, Peter Odell, professor emeritus in international energy studies at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, told the BBC gas would remain "very much more important" in terms of economic growth than oil.
"It will have a growth rate for as far into the future as one can see which is in excess of the growth rate for energy overall," he said.
Gas, he said, would increase total market share, given its "massive" reserves and resources.
Comparing gas and oil demand, the academic remarked: "If you look at an increase in gas demand of something in excess of two per cent, 2.5 per cent even you don't have to reach a peak until about 2090.
"In the meantime oil will be growing very much more slowly, less than two per cent per annum and it will probably only continue to grow for about another 20 years."
Meanwhile Dr Dieter Helm, a fellow in economics at New College Oxford, urged EU states to integrate gas, oil and electricity supplies across the continent, given the worries over security of supply.
Also speaking on the BBC, Pierre Noel, an energy policy analyst at the French Institute for International Relations, said market liberalisation would ensure energy security going forward.
He said a fully liberalised EU energy market would help ensure security of supply.