- What is LNG?
- What is LNG used for?
- How does LNG impact the environment?
- Is LNG safe?
- Is LNG flammable?
- Is LNG explosive?
- What would happen in the event of an LNG spill?
- Why should the U.S. export LNG?
- Do we have enough natural gas to export?
- Will LNG exports benefit the U.S. economy?
- How will LNG exports support domestic manufacturing?
- What does LNG exports mean for global energy security?
- Will LNG exports result in higher prices domestically?
A: Liquefied Natural Gas – or “LNG” – is simply natural gas in liquid form: Natural gas that has been cooled to about -260 degrees Fahrenheit (-162 degrees Celsius) and “liquefied” to reduce its volume by 600 times, making it easier to transport. LNG is odorless, colorless, non-toxic, and non-corrosive. Learn More
A: LNG is natural gas that is liquefied to make it more readily transportable. Once LNG reaches its destination, it can be regasified and made available for the many uses of natural gas: as raw material for products including paints, fertilizer, plastics, antifreeze, dyes and medicine, or as a fuel used for industrial purposes, such as producing steel, glass, paper, clothing, brick and electricity, and for residential and businesses purposes, such as heating, cooking and drying clothes.
In the U.S., the Energy Information Administration estimates that natural gas has eclipsed coal to become the dominant energy source for power generation in 2016. LNG is also particularly well suited to supply the variable demand for gas: LNG can be kept in storage facilities at times of low demand and can quickly be put back into the system at very short notice during periods of higher demand.
Because natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, it is used all over the world to heat homes, generate electricity and fuel vehicles while emitting significantly lower levels of carbon dioxide and sulfur.
A: A much cleaner fossil fuel, natural gas emits half as much carbon dioxide when burned compared to coal. The U.S. has already experienced the environmental benefits of using more natural gas: Energy-related carbon emissions hit at an 18-year low in 2012 due to increased use of natural gas for power generation. By exporting LNG, the U.S. will be able to provide the world with increased access to a cleaner source of energy.
In fact, a 2015 study by Pace Global found that if five key international markets – Germany, Japan, South Korea, China, and India – continued to use coal instead of LNG to generate electricity, their greenhouse gas emissions would be 92 percent to 194 percent higher than current emission levels.
Q: Is LNG safe?
A: As explained by the U.S.Department of Energy (DOE), “The physical and chemical properties of LNG render it safer than other commonly used hydrocarbons.” To begin with, LNG will not burn in its liquid state. If it is exposed to air, LNG rapidly vaporizes as it absorbs heat from the environment, and the resulting vapor is only flammable within a narrow range of gas-to-air concentration, making fires highly unlikely.
To ensure safe operations, the LNG industry works with agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sound engineering practices also contribute to the LNG industry’s “remarkable safety record,” as described by FERC. The double-hulled design of LNG tankers makes them more robust and less prone to accidental spills, and their leak detection technology, emergency shutdown systems, and advanced radar and positioning systems are designed to provide redundant measures ensuring the safe and secure transport of LNG.
That’s why more than 77,000 LNG cargoes have been safely delivered as of 2014, and that’s why the DOE has concluded, “For more than 40 years, the safety record of the global LNG industry has been excellent, due to attention to detail in engineering, construction, and operations.”
A: Natural gas vapors are flammable only within a gas-to-air concentration of 5 to 15 percent, which makes fires and similar incidents along the supply chain unlikely and exceedingly rare.
A: No. LNG, as it returns to its gaseous state, will burn within a gas-to-air concentration of 5 to 15 percent, which is why it is a valuable fuel. LNG will not burn when it is in a liquid state.
A: When exposed to the environment, LNG rapidly evaporates, leaving no residue on water or soil. As a result, “long-term environmental impacts from a release are negligible if there is no ignition of natural gas vapors,” concluded a report commissioned by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
A: The U.S. should export LNG because the country has more than enough natural gas to meet our domestic needs, and exporting a small fraction of our surplus supply will not only benefit our allies currently seeking a safe and reliable supply of energy, but it will also boost our economy, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, and help make the global environment cleaner, by increasing access to a cleaner source of energy.
A: Yes – more than enough. Technological advances, not least hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, have ushered in a new era of energy abundance, putting the days of energy scarcity far behind us. According to recent estimates, the U.S. possesses over 2,300 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of technically recoverable natural gas. To put these figures into perspective, the U.S. consumed just over 27 Tcf of natural gas in 2015. American’s abundance of natural gas means that we have more than enough natural gas to meet our domestic needs while also exporting a small fraction of our excess supply to our trading partners abroad.
A: LNG exports will create jobs throughout the entire natural gas supply chain, increase demand for manufacturing machinery and equipment across the country, and add between $7 and $20 billion every year to the U.S. economy through 2040. Each new LNG export terminal represents up to $10 billion in up-front investment: in parts, materials, and equipment to support increased production and midstream operations, and also in local jobs and wages. A typical LNG export project employs, for each Bcf/d in capacity constructed, an average of 1,500 workers on site during the peak 12 months of construction, and all in all, increased LNG exports could create up to 452,300 jobs by 2035.
A: Each LNG terminal requires machinery and equipment, including compressors, pipes, and compressor vessels, sourced from manufacturers across the country. An increased demand for LNG-related machinery and equipment will create anywhere between 7,800 to 76,800 manufacturing jobs from 2016 to 2035, and 1,700 to 11,400 of those jobs will be in the refining, petrochemicals and chemicals sectors.
Energy-intensive sectors that use natural gas byproducts as a feedstock also stand to benefit from LNG exports: LNG exports would increase the supply of wet natural gas, which would also increase the supply of natural gas liquids (NGLs), such as ethane, which are extracted from the natural gas stream and used as feedstock in the chemicals industry. Increased supplies of NGLs would push down their prices, resulting in lower feedstock costs and thereby bolstering the competitive advantage for the industrial sectors that rely on NGL feedstock.
A: America’s newfound abundance of natural gas has bolstered domestic energy security, but it has also provided us with the opportunity to help our allies strengthen their energy security, which would help make the world a safer place for all.
Throughout history, the supply of energy has been used as a tool in geopolitical conflicts, with some countries using supply disruptions and price manipulations to achieve foreign policy objectives. Escalating conflicts around the world threaten the energy security of energy-dependent countries, making the need to diversify energy supplies increasingly urgent.
As the world’s leading producer of natural gas, the U.S. is well positioned to meet the energy needs of our allies. U.S. LNG exports will help make the global gas market bigger, more liquid and more diverse by increasing supply options for importing countries.
A: No. A substantial body of research has found that LNG exports will not raise domestic natural gas prices significantly. The U.S. is natural gas abundant and has over 2,300 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of technically recoverable natural gas. Because of the this abundance the U.S. can produce enough gas to supply our domestic market and export some to our trading partners. Several authoritative studies have been conducted on the relatively minor potential impact on domestic prices, including:
A study by NERA Economic Consulting which concluded, “Natural gas price changes attributable to LNG exports remain in a relatively narrow range across the entire range of scenarios.” It also found that “the effects of higher price do not offset the positive impacts from wealth transfers and result in higher GDP over the model horizon in all scenarios,” and that the “net result [of increased LNG exports] is an increase in U.S. households’ real income and welfare.”
A study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration which found: “On average, from 2015 to 2040, natural gas bills paid by end-use consumers in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors combined increase 1% to 8% over a comparable baseline case, depending on the export scenario and case, while increases in electricity bills paid by end-use customers range from 0% to 3%.”