LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to the liquid state. The volume of the LNG is only 1/600th the volume of the same quantity of gaseous natural gas. This +99 % shrinkage in volume makes it easy to transport the LNG long distances with tankers. Once the LNG arrives at its destination - usually a marine terminal - a warming operation is necessary to return the liquefied natural gas to the gaseous state.
This ease by which LNG can be transported from overseas natural gas-rich countries to gas-poor countries, e.g., the Japan, will make LNG the star fuel for the next few decades as readily-available world oil supplies decline.
Technically, LNG is not one of the much-desired but never quite fully developed alternative fuels, e.g., solar energy and windmills. It is just conventional natural gas in the liquid state. However, most of us tend to speak of LNG as if it is an alternative fuel. And the effect of the liquefied natural gas on our fuel supply is important because It gives us a large quantity of additional fuel that we desperately need. Lets not quibble with labels.
LNG is Not New. The use of natural gas as a gaseous fuel is well known, of course. What has not been well known, at least in the U.S., is how common the use of LNG has been in many foreign energy-poor countries such as Japan. Japan gets most of its natural gas supply from LNG.
A dozen or so countries import LNG.
You didn't hear much about LNG in the U.S. until recently because the U.S. just didn't need it. We still had quite a bit of oil left and we thought we had a virtually inexhaustible supply of natural gas reserves.
Alan Greenspan Comments. LNG offers great hope for the next decade or so but the environmentalists may have to step back to allow its development. I note that Alan Greenspan, on April 5, 2005, made some encouraging remarks:
Forbes Magazine: "Greenspan foresees a rapid increase in international trade of natural gas as Liquefied Natural Gas technology is becoming more competitive rendering new projects economically viable.....As a result of substantial cost reductions for liquefaction and transportation of LNG, significant global trade in natural gas is developing."
Alan Greenspan's comments on were informative. I had not realized such a significant trade existed. In my opinion, the liquid gas offers a temporary, but one of the best, hopes for holding off the severe effects of the Oil shortage until we can get renewable energy resources developed.
1. The liquefied gas is expensive to transport and, up to now, the amount imported to the U.S. has been limited.
2. LNG has historically usually required offshore terminals to handle the material, and at this time, only a handful of terminals are in operation in the U.S. Other terminals are planned but their construction in any meaningful number will take years.
3.. LNG is extremely flammable and concerns about its safety in the present world of terrorism abound. For this reason, the material must overcome its susceptibility to terrorist attack. The tankers and storage tanks handling the fuel would make prime targets and, if hit, the ignited material could cause horrendous damage. One estimate is that persons one mile from such explosions would receive burns.
4. LNG is not a cure-all since natural gas is not a renewable resource and, eventually, it too will be eventually depleted. However, it could help bridge the Oil shortage gap while renewable energy resources are being developed.
Stranded Natural Gas. About one-half the natural gas deposits in the world is "stranded" gas, that is, the gas is located in remote locations where it cannot be easily reached for production and use as conventional gas. Consequently, it is sometimes flared and, thereby, wasted. Much of this stranded natural gas could end up as feed for the LNG process.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar Natural Gas Reserves. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have very large reserves of natural gas and both countries are getting into the liquefied natural gas producing business. Qatar, with the third largest natural gas reserves in the world, is being very aggressive in developing an export capability. All together, about a dozen countries are shipping LNG as an export product.
Iran and Soviet Union Gas Reserves. Soviet Union and Iran rank among the top three countries in natural gas reserves and will no-doubt become leaders in the LNG export business over time.
Four countries in the Atlantic-Mediterranean basin currently exporting liquefied natural gas are Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, and Trinidad.
The lack of terminals in the US, however, will not change quickly. Huge quantities of natural gas is now being produced from the massive shale formations in the US that are being developed due to the new technology recently developed. (see discussion below)
In the past few years, there has been a development in natural gas and LNG that seems likely to scramble all our pre-conceived notions about natural gas and LNG.
Immense deposits of natural gas have been discovered in numerous shale formations around the U.S. Even more important, the technology for recovering the natural gas from the shale formations has been developed and recovery of the natural gas is underway. Consequently, the former natural gas shortage in the U.S. is rapidly becoming a natural gas surplus.
It appears likely to me (and most desirable) that importation of LNG to the U.S. will cease and that the U.S. will, instead, become a major exporter of LNG.
In that event, this web site will require a rewrite!
LNG provides an alternative natural gas source in liquefied natural gas.
Last Updated: 02/05/17