Liquefied Natural Gas
An emerging industry offers an opportunity to bring economic benefits to Canadians and environmental benefits to the world.
What is Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)?
Natural gas, when produced and used in Canada, is shipped as a gas through pipelines to a local distribution company and then delivered to customers.
When natural gas is shipped to distant foreign markets, the natural gas is cooled to -161°C to become a liquid.
As the majority of Canada’s natural gas resources are in B.C. and Alberta, the best place to establish new LNG processing and shipping facilities is on Canada’s West Coast, which is close to potential new markets in Southeast Asia, India and China.
The LNG Process: How to Liquefy Natural Gas
There are three primary steps involved in creating LNG:
When raw natural gas arrives at the liquefaction plant, impurities are removed leaving a product that is primarily methane. The natural gas is cooled to about -161°C so it becomes liquid. The volume of natural gas in its liquid state is about 600 times smaller than its volume in its gaseous state. The LNG is stored in insulated tanks to keep it cold until ready to ship.
LNG is pumped into double-hulled LNG carriers designed to keep the LNG cold and minimize evaporation. LNG carriers can hold up to 9.4 million cubic feet of LNG, equivalent to 5.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas in its natural gaseous state.
When the LNG carrier arrives at its destination, the LNG is offloaded and stored in insulated storage tanks to keep it cold. When needed, the LNG is warmed to convert it back to a gas and then delivered by pipeline to customers.
Watch How LNG is Cooled and Transported
- Natural gas is cooled to -161°C when it becomes liquid.
- LNG is a clear, colourless, odourless, non-toxic liquid.
- LNG carriers can hold up to 9.4 million cubic feet of LNG, which is equivalent to 5.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas in its natural state.
- More than 135,000 LNG carrier voyages have taken place without major accidents, safety problems, or security issues either in port or at sea.(Source: Centre for Liquefied Natural Gas)
LNG and the Environment
LNG can help lower global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when it’s used to displace higher-emitting coal for power generation. In addition, life-cycle GHG emissions from Canadian LNG production could be among the lowest in the world with electrification of upstream natural gas production.
Shipping Liquefied Natural Gas Safely
LNG shipping has a proven safety record. The world’s first LNG tanker shipped LNG safely from Louisiana to the United Kingdom in 1959. Through 60 years of marine shipping experience, shipments have covered more than 100 million miles without major accidents, safety problems, or security issues, either in port or at sea. (Source: Center for Liquefied Natural Gas)
LNG carriers are designed to have a high degree of safety:
- Double hulled vessels.
- Separating LNG cargo tanks from the hull structure using thick insulation.
- Closed cargo systems for loading or discharging, to prevent vapour venting
- Temperature and pressure monitoring.
- Gas detection and cargo tank liquid level indicators.
Canada’s LNG Opportunity
Global markets for LNG are expected to expand by the mid-2020s. In the past decade, about 20 LNG facilities were proposed for development on Canada’s West Coast, but most have been cancelled or deferred. Currently only five LNG facilities are in progress on the West Coast, and three others are proposed for Canada’s East Coast and in Quebec.
Economic Benefits of LNG
Natural gas development offers significant potential economic benefits especially from establishing a Canadian LNG industry. Currently there are several LNG export projects proposed for Canada’s west coast. If all these projects were built it could potentially provide Canada with billions in provincial and federal revenues and add thousands of jobs across Canada.
The LNG Opportunity for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous communities will see a significant increase in economic benefits, skills training and environmental stewardship if proposed natural gas pipelines and LNG infrastructure projects proceed. In B.C., nearly 90% of the 32 First Nations with proposed pipelines through their traditional territories have indicated their support through one or more pipeline benefits agreements. (Source: Government of British Columbia)