Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is natural gas chilled to -160 degrees Celsius so that it can be converted into a liquid form.
After it has been liquefied, natural gas compresses to approximately 1/600th of its normal volume, making it safe and economically efficient to transport overseas.
LNG is safe, on land and in transit as a result of detailed industry standards, strict regulations, and a commitment to risk management.
Here are the facts:
According to the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL), 350 carriers have completed more than 135,000 voyages, travelling more than 240 million kilometres at sea.
Industry estimates over 240 million tonnes of LNG were traded around the world last year.
There has never been a significant incident resulting in a loss of cargo at sea, or in port.
Globally, LNG vessels are specifically designed to contain liquefied natural gas for transport overseas:
- Construction is supervised by third-party inspectors, and all ships must have international certification to carry liquefied natural gas.
- All certified ships have double hulls, with an inner hull, outer hull and 5-8 feet of ballast water separating hulls. Additionally, the LNG is stored in a containment tank.
- Cargo tanks are separated from the hull structure by thick insulation.
- Vessels are inspected once a year, with a full dry-dock inspection every five years.
Vessels carrying LNG are built with proven safety standards. All ships have leak detection technology, emergency shutdown systems and advanced radar and positioning equipment.
Carriers transporting LNG to and from British Columbia will be escorted by power tug boats. These tugs will escort larger LNG vessels and be able to re-direct them if required.
Storage tanks are constructed with thermal insulation to prevent heat transfer and reduce evaporation.
Thermal insulators also protect storage tanks from the cryogenic temperatures required to store chilled natural gas, maintaining the structural integrity of the infrastructure.
Terminals and storage tanks on the ground are equipped with spill containment systems and alarms; with automatic and manual shut-down technology should a problem ever occur.
LNG is not explosive in open air, toxic, carcinogenic or chemically reactive. Igniting LNG is impossible because it is a liquid, and liquids do not contain enough oxygen to combust.
LNG is a fuel source, so it is flammable and it can burn - that's its value as an energy source. However; the conditions to ignite LNG are nearly impossible, on land or in transit, since the liquid would first need to vaporise and be mixed with the correct proportions of air to become flammable, and then ultimately come into contact with an ignition source.
If a leak or spill occurs, LNG vapours immediately absorb heat from ambient air and soil, become lighter than air, rise and dissipate. No residue is left; no environmental cleanup is required.
Emergency procedures and response plans are developed for every LNG operation. These plans are discussed with the local, fire, police and medical services.
All LNG operations are subject to video surveillance and on-site security personnel.