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Gas is crucial for Europe if the continent wants to continue to benefit from lower energy costs, according to Alan Haywood, chief executive of BP’s trading arm.

Speaking at the FT Commodities Global Summit in Lausanne Mr Haywood said while the growing role of renewables in power generation was undeniable, gas remains essential.

“That’s the reality to meet demand,” said Mr Haywood of BP Integrated Supply & Trading. “In order to meet energy demand of the world [particularly Europe] we need to provide low cost power and fuel and there is a role for gas here.”

“There is availability of gas and affordability of gas and environmental benefits compared to other aspects of market,” he added.

But Mark Crandall, chairman of venture capital group Postscriptum, said the falling cost of renewables should not be underestimated especially in other parts of the world, In Latin America green technology companies were outcompeting suppliers of traditional fuels.

Renewable technology, he said, is “the grim reaper” for fossil fuels and its spectre was fast approaching.

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