LNG Essential Questions That Should Be Answered

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By Marilyn Royce

You may have heard a lot about liquefied natural gas (LNG), the cleanest fossil fuel in today’s energy market. The adoption of LNG as a mainstream energy source has been rapidly increasing over the last decade, both in domestic and industrial usage. Energy experts tout LNG as the transition fuel that will slow down the climate woes caused by other fossil fuels, as the world transitions gradually to green energy.

LNG Essential Questions Answered

Being a relatively new energy source, at least for many people, there is a lot of misleading information out there regarding LNG. We will help you understand the essentials of LNG by answering these 8 frequently asked questions:

1.      What is LNG?

As the name suggests, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is natural gas (a fossil fuel) that has been changed from a gas into a liquid. To liquefy it, the natural gas is cooled to –260° F (–162° C), reducing its original volume by up to 600 times.

2.      Why is natural gas liquefied?

The significant change in volume upon liquefaction makes it easier, safer, and more efficient to transport natural gas across oceans.

3.      How is LNG transported?

LNG companies have specialized ships that transport the gas across oceans. These ships are fitted with advanced radar and positioning systems as well as leak detection technologies to protect aquatic life. On the other end of the ocean, there are storage facilities that are specially designed to keep LNG in its liquid state until it’s regasified. The natural gas is then moved to regasification facilities where it’s converted back to its original gaseous state in readiness for distribution to the consumers. All these movements happen through specially designed LNG pipeline infrastructure.

4.      Is LNG really clean?

LNG is cleaner than other fossil fuels. Compared to coal, LNG cuts down carbon dioxide emissions by about 40%. Compared to oil, it produces 30% less carbon dioxide. LNG also doesn’t produce other common pollutants such as soot, sulfur dioxide, dust, or particulates.

5.      How do we use LNG?

LNG can be used in a variety of ways, both in residential and commercial settings. Its residential uses include heating and cooking. Commercially, LNG can be used in generating electricity, fueling commercial vehicles, and fueling manufacturing industries.

6.      Who is leading the LNG revolution?

Energy investors around the world have realized the huge potential of LNG and are pumping billions of dollars into the industry every year. These investors are investing in post-modern LNG production, storage, regasification, and pipeline infrastructure around the world. Philip Mshelbila of Nigeria LNG, for example, is leading the LNG revolution in Africa. His company currently operates 6 LNG trains which produce a combined 22 million tons per annum (mtpa). Another notable figure in LNG development is Riccardo Baratozzi, Chief executive of Eni SpA. His company operates two proprietary LNG tankers that have a combined capacity of 130,000 cubic meters. And then there is AG&P’s Joseph Sigelman who is inarguably one of the leaders of LNG adoption in Asia. AG&P supplies 28 districts in India (about 8% of the sub-continent) with LNG for household, industrial, and commercial use.

7.      How important is LNG in the global energy sector?

First, LNG is locally available on all continents. With LNG, no continent needs to depend entirely on another continent for fuel. That minimizes the supply chain breakdowns that are often precipitated by international trade wars and other geopolitical challenges. Secondly, being locally available means that LNG can only get more and more affordable going into the future. Newer and more efficient production, storage, regasification, and distribution technologies in the future will make it possible for many countries to produce their own LNG affordably and in bulk.

8.      How does LNG compare with renewable energy?

About 85-95% of LNG is methane, with the remaining percentage being a mixture of propane, nitrogen, ethane, and butane. That means LNG carries its own bag of environmental pollutants. But is there an absolutely “clean” energy source? The truth is that each energy source, including renewable sources, has its shortcomings.

Solar energy, for example, is unreliable during storms and gloomy days. The world cannot rely on solar energy to power industries, vehicles, or homes. Wind energy, on the other hand, has a serious impact on the environment. The turbines that produce this energy source contribute to noise pollution, displace wildlife, and alter visual aesthetics. As for hydroelectric energy, dam construction kills vegetation, displaces people & wildlife, and blocks the flow of water forcing fish migration downstream.

Bottom line: LNG isn’t 100% clean, but so are all its cleaner alternatives. LNG is also more reliable than all available renewable energy sources.

Final word

In the end, the world will have to figure out a way of optimizing the use of clean, renewable sources and doing away with fossil fuels. That’s how we will achieve net-zero emissions. Before then, LNG has demonstrated the potential of standing in as the transition fuel. The future of LNG will be interesting to watch.