Vital for Transportation
The world is currently seeing some of its largest quantities of natural gas. According to recent numbers published by OPEC, the amount of proven natural gas reserves has been steadily increasing for over 50 years, including a vast supply in the United States. The question is no longer one of supply, but of transportation and access. Towns, cities, and countries that need the energy from natural gas, but are not located near reserves, rely on advanced transportation methods. This is where the liquefying process comes in; liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the preferred method for natural gas transportation, with a history that stretches back to 1965. LNG has taken on a new level of importance in the United States, as growing domestic supplies have increased the level of domestic LNG processing and shipping.
The most important part of liquefying natural gas is the cooling. Natural gas is taken from a production field, the impurities are removed, and then the gas must be cooled to approximately -260° F (-162° C). When natural gas is condensed into a liquid, its volume decreases dramatically. LNG takes up only 1/600th of the ordinary volume of natural gas, making it the ideal form for large-scale transportation. After transportation on specially designed vessels, LNG undergoes regasification and is typically transported via domestic pipelines. This process is vital for delivering natural gas to the homes, businesses, and industries that rely on it, no matter how far away they may be from gas fields.
High Standards of Safety
Another advantage of using LNG for transportation is its excellent safety record. While vessels that carry LNG are heavily protected against spillage, the nature of this compound is mostly benign to the environment. If LNG is spilled on the ground, no damage occurs and no residue is left, as the substance completely evaporates. LNG is also insoluble and evaporates in water, negating the need for any cleanup in the event of a water spill. LNG is not stored under high pressure and is not explosive when mixed with the air; in an open environment, the energy levels in LNG cannot be released rapidly enough to create an explosive condition. These factors demonstrate that LNG is one of the cleanest and safest fuels in the industry to transport.
A Growing Opportunity
Ten years ago, a paper published by the U.S. Department of Energy predicted a gradual overall decline in domestic natural gas production. This was before the domestic shale boom that began around 2010, causing a widespread reinterpretation of America’s place as an oil producer. Many industry leaders are now looking to increase the export market of domestic LNG, noting that the U.S. is currently holding 2,543 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. All the while, the world’s need for this energy source keeps growing; countries in Asia, Europe, and South America are all experiencing an increasing demand for natural gas. Some ports originally built for importing natural gas are now being used for exports, including the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana. Projects such as these are not only poised to increase the United States’ position as an international energy trading partner, but could also help create thousands of new jobs in related construction projects.
Reliable Supplies for the Future of Natural Gas
The products from Southwest Process Controls are among the best in the industry. They include all varieties of fluid system control products such as valves, fittings, gauges, regulators, hosing, steam and temperature control products. While this exciting area continues to expand, we offer the natural gas industry the best quality supplies for their LNG needs. Contact us directly to find out more.