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Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)

Context:

The EU is weaning itself off piped Russian gas by rapidly expanding imports of liquified natural gas, much of it fracked in the US.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is LNG?
  2. What’s the climate impact of LNG?

What is LNG?

  • LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to extremely low temperatures (-161 degrees Celsius) to reduce it to a liquid state.
  • The liquid gas is 600 times smaller in volume and half the weight of water.
  • Comprised mostly of methane, it can be transported by ship to different parts of the world.
  • Regasification of the cargo occurs in a floating terminal and the gas is then distributed through pipelines.
Market Limitations
  • The high cost of liquefaction and production have limited the market for LNG.
  • Building floating LNG terminals for imports to substitute Russian gas has doubled in cost in Germany due to higher operating and infrastructure costs.
Energy Requirements
  • Cooling, liquefying, and transport processes, as well as post-transport regasification procedures require a lot of energy.
  • “Between 10-25% of the energy of the gas is being lost during the liquefaction process,”.

What’s the climate impact of LNG?

Energy Intensity:

  • A lot of energy is required to extract natural gas, transport it to an LNG facility, chill it to low temperatures, and hold it at that temperature before it is regasified after a long journey.

Methane Loss:

  • The complex production and transport process of LNG increases the risk of methane leakages, resulting in higher emissions.

High Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

  • LNG emits “about twice as much greenhouse gas as ordinary natural gas,” according to the US-based nonprofit Natural Resources Defence Council (NDRC).
  • Processing LNG is so energy- and carbon-intensive that it can create almost 10 times more carbon emissions than piped gas.
  • The numerous stages required to take LNG from the wellhead to the market lead to a “very high imported emissions intensity” in comparison to piped gas.

Comparison to Renewable Energy:

  • LNG emits 14 times as much carbon as solar power when producing the equivalent amount of energy, and 50 times as much carbon as wind power.

Comparison to Piped Gas:

  • The emissions intensity of piped gas from Norway in particular is almost 10 times less than average LNG emissions.
  • Emissions are limited to upstream, transport and processing stages in piped gas.

-Source: Indian Express


February 2023
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