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Experts anticipate that rising crude oil prices – as well as the increasing decoupling of natural gas and crude oil prices – will continue to drive the global LNG market as well as growing regional markets. In addition, stricter environmental regulations for pollutant emissions, above all in the transport sector (especially in shipping), urgently require alternatives that can be fulfilled through the use of natural gas.
Cooling to minus 162 degrees Celsius
Just like crude oil, most natural gas deposits are located far away from their actual point of use. At present, over 90 percent of natural gas is fed through long pipelines to power plants, industrial facilities and homes. But once the distance in relation to the volume of gas to be transported becomes too high, this ceases to be economically viable due to the high costs of construction, materials and compressor stations. To efficiently transport natural gas, it is liquefied by cooling it to minus 162 degrees Celsius. This reduces its volume some 600-fold.
Globally, there are circa 70 so-called world-scale plants with a capacity of some ten million tonnes per year. They are directly connected to large natural gas deposits and produce LNG for export purposes. In addition to the globally oriented LNG trade, construction of regional and local infrastructures is becoming increasingly significant, just as is the development of deposits that are difficult to access.
Efficient technologies and innovative complete solutions
Liquid natural gas can be transported from coastal LNG terminals by truck, or it can be re-evaporated and fed into a regional pipeline network to thus reach the consumer. Linde offers efficient technologies and innovative complete solutions both for LNG transport as well as for the development of LNG infrastructures – from natural gas cleanup to storage tanks and vaporisation equipment for port facilities and ships all the way to regional distribution and customer applications.
To efficiently use natural gas sources that are difficult to access, liquefaction technologies are constantly evolving. Many natural gas deposits are located offshore and can only be accessed via floating platforms or extraction ships. Linde is collaborating with partners on so-called FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading) units so that LNG can be produced far out at sea.
LNG has arrived in the Netherlands as well
In a partnership with IDS-Q8, Linde has constructed the first standardized LNG service station for trucks. It is located in the Rotterdam Botlek area.
The starting principle for the collaboration between IDS and Linde was the joint objective of achieving a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Trucks that run on LNG make a considerable contribution to the "50/50/500" objective of the National LNG Platform. It causes less emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), CO2 and particulates than diesel. For transport companies, added advantages are the lower price per kilometre and up to 50% less engine noise.
The Q8 station can be found along the A15 highway, near the "Distripark Botlek" exit.
Liquid natural gas trade routes
As of distances of several thousand kilometres, natural gas transport is only economically viable via ship, i.e. special LNG tankers. Approximately 200 of these tankers now distribute liquefied natural gas all around the world.