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  LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS
  LNG Basics
 
Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is natural gas that has been cooled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, the point at which gas condenses to a liquid. When natural gas is cooled into liquid form, its volume is reduced by a factor of 600, which means LNG uses 1/600 of the space required for the same mass of gas. An example would be a 17-inch beach ball being reduced to the size of a ping pong ball. This liquefaction process allows gas to be shipped and stored safely and economically to markets throughout the world.
   
  LNG Properties
 
Natural gas, the cleanest-burning and safest of all fossil fuels, is odorless and colorless in liquid form. LNG is noncorrosive and nontoxic and will not pollute land or water resources. LNG is lighter than water and when exposed to air quickly vaporizes. The vapor has only 55 percent of the density of air, so the gas vapor rises and floats away if a release occurs.
   
  Natural Gas Availability
 
There are huge reserves of natural gas beneath the earth’s surface. The largest reserves of natural gas can be found in Asia, Russia, West and North Africa, the Middle East and South America. Leading importers of LNG are Japan, Korea, France and Spain. The United States has been both producing and importing LNG for more than three decades. Although the extent of the world's tight gas, shale gas and coalbed methane resource base has not yet been assessed fully, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects a substantial increase in those supplies—especially in the United States, but also in Canada and China. In the U.S., one of the keys to increasing natural gas production has been advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, which have made it possible to develop the country's vast shale gas resources and have helped to increase total US natural gas resources by almost 50 percent over the past decade.
   
  LNG Production
 
Based on GIIGNL data, there are 24 LNG liquefaction and export facilities in 18 countries around the world. Facilities such as these and Freeport LNG’s proposed liquefaction plant on Quintana Island are able to cool natural gas to the temperatures needed to condense it to LNG. For natural gas liquefaction, impurities in the gas that would harm the liquefaction process must first be removed. After pretreatment, the gas flows into the liquefaction plant, which consists most importantly of the refrigeration system and the heat exchanger. The pretreated gas, at a typical temperature of approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit, flows into the heat exchanger in the liquefaction plant. The heat exchanger has a series of refrigeration loops through which the refrigerant flows on one side, while a separate series of cooling loops on the other side contains the natural gas. LNG Liquefaction Facility
Photo Courtesy of Woodside Energy Ltd., Source: Foster Wheeler                  
A combination of compression, heat exchanger cooling and pressure drop cooling is performed numerous times to ultimately achieve minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the natural gas exits the heat exchanger in liquid form as LNG. The LNG product is transferred either into LNG storage tanks designed specifically for cryogenic service or directly to a waiting LNG tanker for transport to market.
   
  LNG Transportation and Storage
 
LNG Tanker

There are close to 360 LNG tankers in the global fleet equipped to transport over 240 million tons of LNG annually to 89 LNG import terminals around the world. These numbers are predicted yet to increase dramatically over the next decade due to the growing popularity of LNG. When transported, LNG is placed into tanks in double-hulled tankers specifically designed to haul LNG, ensuring its safety to people and to the environment. LNG tankers are some of the most technologically sophisticated vessels in the world, with state-of-the art propulsion and navigation systems, and LNG shipping has a long record of safe operation. LNG ships have traveled millions of miles without a major incident. There have been no collisions, fires, explosions or hull failures resulting in a loss of containment for LNG ships in ports or at sea.

According to a Sandia National Laboratories 2008 report, over the life of the LNG shipping industry only eight incidents occurred worldwide. None of the accidents led to a loss of life or breach of the vessels’ cargo containment systems.
 
On land and at offshore terminals, LNG is stored in specially engineered and constructed double-walled storage tanks. The LNG storage tanks have approximately three-foot thick exterior concrete walls. An inner tank is made of a special steel/nickel alloy to accommodate the very cold LNG. The space between these walls is filled with insulation to maintain a cold environment for the LNG. Should a leak occur in the inner wall, all of the LNG would be contained in the space by the outer wall. Sophisticated redundant monitoring systems provide constant surveillance for an internal leak. The tanks are not pressurized. The liquid is taken from the tank and regasified for delivery through pipelines to homes, businesses and industry. 
   
 
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  LNG Transportation and Storage Animation
   
  LNG Industry
 
The modern LNG industry has an enviable legacy of safe operations for almost 50 years including scores of thousands of safe LNG carrier voyages, covering millions of miles. Since the 1960s, LNG has become an increasingly important way to transport natural gas from natural-gas-producing areas such as Indonesia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean to consuming areas such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, India and Western Europe. With the improvements in LNG technology and costs, LNG is rapidly becoming an internationally traded commodity. In addition, some natural gas companies liquefy natural gas and store it on site for use during peak demand periods.
   
 

Useful LNG Industry links

 

The International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL)

GIIGNL is a nonprofit organization, founded on Gaz de France’s initiative in Paris in December 1971. It is composed of some 70 member companies located in North America, Asia and Europe and involved in the importation of liquefied natural gas.

GIIGNL's main objective is to promote the development of activities related to LNG, namely, purchasing, importing, processing, transportation, handling, regasification and its various uses. To this purpose, the Group aims to provide an overview of the state-of-the art technology in the LNG industry and its general economic state, to enhance facility operations, to diversify contractual techniques, to develop positions to be taken in international agencies, etc.

GIIGNL Website

   
 

The Society of International Gas Tanker & Terminal Operators (SIGTTO)

SIGTTO is a non-profit making company, formed to promote high operating standards and best practices in gas tankers and terminals throughout the world. It provides technical advice and support for its members and represents their collective interests in technical and operational matters.

SIGTTO Website

   
 

The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas

The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG) is a trade association of LNG producers, shippers, terminal operators and developers, energy trade associations and natural gas consumers.  CLNG is a clearinghouse of educational and technical information.  It also facilitates rational issue discussion and the development of public policies that support LNG’s contribution toward meeting the nation’s energy needs and supporting economic growth.    

CLNG Website