Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     21st March 2024        

Context: Union minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas month dedicated to the nation India's first small-scale liquefied natural gas (SSLNG) unit at GAIL (India) Ltd's Vijaipur complex in Madhya Pradesh.

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)

  • About: LNG is natural gas transformed into a liquid state through intense cooling to approximately -161 degrees Celsius (-259 Fahrenheit), making it 600 times smaller than its original volume and half the weight of water.
  • Transportation by Ship: The compressed fossil fuel, primarily composed of methane, can be shipped globally, facilitating its transportation from production sites to consumer markets.
  • Regasification and Distribution: Upon arrival at its destination, LNG is regasified in floating terminals and distributed through pipelines for consumption.
  • Market Limitations: Despite export potential, the high cost associated with liquefaction and production has hindered LNG's market growth. For instance, in Germany, building floating LNG terminals to substitute Russian gas has incurred significant expenses.
  • Energy Consumption: The processes involved in LNG production, transportation, and regasification demand substantial energy, with estimates suggesting a loss of 10-25% of the gas's energy during liquefaction, posing environmental and economic challenges.

Why small-scale LNG?

  • Aim: The government aims to boost the share of natural gas in its primary energy mix to surpass 6% by 2030.
  • Environmental Benefits of Natural Gas: Natural gas is significantly less polluting compared to conventional hydrocarbons like coal and oil.
  • Cost-Effectiveness of Natural Gas: Natural gas is economically advantageous as it is cheaper than oil, despite more than 85% of India's oil requirement being met through costly imports.

Climate Impact of LNG

  • Energy Intensive Extraction and Processing: Extraction, transportation, and processing of natural gas into LNG require significant energy, contributing to its climate impact.
  • Methane Loss Along Supply Chain: Methane leakage throughout the production, transport, and regasification process heightens LNG's emissions profile.
  • Comparative Emissions: LNG emits approximately double the greenhouse gases compared to ordinary natural gas, as highlighted by the Natural Resources Defence Council (NDRC).