What is LNG?
LNG stands for liquefied natural gas.
Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is natural gas in a liquid state – it is the same gas used to heat homes and the same gas found in gas range stoves. This gas becomes a liquid when it is cooled to -162ºC. This process, called liquefaction, shrinks the volume of the gas by 600 times, making it easier to store and transport to markets around the world.
LNG is not stored under pressure. It is cooled, stored and transported at atmospheric pressure.
Upon arriving at its delivery destination, LNG is warmed to its original gaseous state where it can be used for various purposes from heating and cooling homes, generating electricity, to fuelling heavy-duty vehicles.
- is the most used energy in Canadian homes – over 6 million households
- makes up approximately half of the energy used in the industrial sector
- provides nearly 9% of Canada’s power
- produces up to 30% less emissions than traditional fuel
It is important to note that contrary to some misinformation, LNG is odourless, colourless, non-corrosive, non-toxic, and less dense than water. Natural gas does not burn or explode because it does not contain oxygen. In the unlikely event of a spill, it would warm, rise and dissipate.
For natural gas to burn and lead to an explosion, it must first warm to a gaseous state and three specific conditions must occur simultaneously. There must be:
- A confined space
- The right fuel-to-air ratio (5% – 15%)
- A spark
* LNG facilities use state-of-the-art monitoring systems and are built specifically so that these conditions do not occur.
Why is LNG better for the environment?
Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and is used in many places in the world to reduce emissions and transition off more polluting fuels.
In comparison to coal powered energy, energy generated through combined cycle natural gas plants produces:
- less than half as much carbon dioxide;
- less than one tenth as much nitrogen oxides (causes smog);
- less than one percent as much sulfur oxides (causes acid rain) and PM2.5 micro-particulates (causes respiratory complications etc.)
Even the cleanest coal technologies produce 70% more lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than power generated by natural gas. In fact, replacing just one 500 megawatt coal-fired power plant with natural gas fueled power generation for one year, equates to taking 557,000 cars off the roads.
In addition to being the cleanest alternative, building natural gas power plants is also much more efficient than coal powered plants. Natural gas plants require substantially less time, energy, water use and land area than coal plants and do not produce ash as a by product.
As the cleanest burning fossil fuel, natural gas has the capability to support the development of renewable energy such as wind and solar energy (currently intermittent) in an integrated supply chain by filling in with power generation when needed.
” If extracted safely, natural gas is the ‘bridge fuel’ that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” – President Obama, 2014 State of the Union address]
Is LNG a safe industry?
LNG is a well established international industry with an excellent safety record due to strict regulations, training and constantly improving technologies.
LNG facilities employ state-of-the-art safety and security technology in compliance with industry regulations and best practices as well as emergency shutdown systems.
There are many LNG facilities around the world that operate safely adjacent to or within existing urban areas such as: Fortis BC’s Tilbury LNG plant in Delta, the Everett Marine Terminal near Boston, Barcelona LNG in Barcelona, and the Shanghai LNG terminal in Shanghai.
* LNG facilities also do not emit odours, as the smell that most associate with natural gas is actually an additive to household gas used to warn of leaks. This additive called mercaptan is removed as soon as the natural gas arrives at the facility.
Since 1964 LNG has been transported around the world without major incidents either at port or at sea (more than 140,000 journeys). LNG carriers are double-hulled ships specifically designed to handle LNG at its -162ºC temperature, and equipped with state-of-the-art safety and security technology.
To ensure safe navigation, carriers are assisted by tugboats and require trained and accredited pilots for berthing. LNG carriers strictly adhere to established safe distances and speed limits. Also, carrierscan only exchange ballast water at least 200 nautical miles from the coastline (these are the rules currently in effect for freighters in the Howe Sound).
LNG storage tanks are also double walled and insulated (similar to that of a thermos). The inner wall is made of approximately 9% nickel (to withstand the cryogenic temperature) and the outer wall is made of carbon steel.
LNG is stored and transported in safe world class vessels at atmospheric pressure. Any excess LNG that boils off is used as fuel for the ship.
The global demand for energy will increase by 35% by 2035 and the specific demand for natural gas is expected to increase by 55%.
The growing energy demand is fuelled by rapid economic growth and improving standards of living in Asia, where the population is high and the GDP rises 6% to 8% annually.
Asian markets are looking to diversify their energy imports to meet growing demands, but to also seek cleaner alternatives to offset the often hazardous levels of air pollution.
In China, where LNG imports are expected to surpass that of Japan (current top importer), air quality readings are known to be 40 times higher than what the World Health Organization (WHO) deems as “safe levels”. This is why China aims to reduce their coal consumption to less than 65% total energy use by 2017 in order to curb pollution levels.
“Greenhouse gas emissions from energy supply can be reduced significantly by replacing current world average coal-fired plants with modern, highly efficient natural gas combined-cycle plants or combined heat and power cycle plants, provided that natural gas is available and the fugitive emissions associated with extraction and supply are low or mitigated.”
– UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report]
As the cleanest burning fossil fuel, LNG is the best and most reliable source to help transition away from high emission fuels.
British Columbia currently has enough natural gas reserves to develop an LNG export industry for 150 years. Currently most of our energy exports are almost exclusively to the US – but their import demands are decreasing.
British Columbia’s coast is ideally situated to export LNG to Asia, as our coast is approximately 2 days closer (by carrier) than international LNG competitors to transport shipments.
In addition to reducing the overall global emissions levels, developing LNG for export in British Columbia will generate thousands of quality high paying jobs as well as provide the government with more revenue to fund healthcare and education.
Currently, natural gas provides approximately $13 billion in export revenue. Should an LNG export industry be developed, it is estimated that over the next 25 years, revenue would be:
- $285 billion in personal, corporate and indirect taxes
- $98 billion in royalties
It is anticipated that 317,000 jobs (direct, indirect and induced) would be created across Canada by 2035 in the natural gas sector – this is double the current job numbers.
For More Information On Natural Gas
- Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) – www.capp.ca
- Canadian Centre for Energy – www.centreforenergy.com
- Canadian Energy Research Institute – www.ceri.ca
- Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) – www.casahome.org
- Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) – www.ercb.ca
- BC Oil and Gas Commission – www.bcogc.ca
- Environment Canada – www.ec.gc.ca
 Canadian Gas Association’s 2014 Annual Gas Sector Report
 PACE Global Energy Services Independent study report
 The International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL)- 2013