Liquefied natural gas (LNG)
Many people in need of energy are located far from gas fields, making pipelines too impractical or costly to build. To get around this problem, gas can be cooled to make a liquid, shrinking its volume for easier, safer storage and shipping overseas.
Shell has been a pioneer in liquefied natural gas (LNG) for more than 50 years. In Arzew, Algeria, the first commercial LNG liquefaction plant was delivered in 1964 with Shell involvement, and we shipped the first commercial cargo from Algeria to the UK in the same year, starting today’s global trade.
We have continued to innovate and improve the technology behind LNG, and have worked hard to find ways to make more LNG available where it is needed around the world. For example, we are building Prelude FLNG, the world’s largest floating LNG production facility, which will access gas resources from underwater fields too uneconomic or challenging to reach from land.
What is LNG and how can we use it?
LNG is a clear, colourless and non-toxic liquid which forms when natural gas is cooled to -162ºC (-260ºF). The cooling process shrinks the volume of the gas 600 times, making it easier and safer to store and ship. In its liquid state, LNG will not ignite.
When LNG reaches its destination, it is turned back into a gas at regasification plants. It is then piped to homes, businesses and industries where it is burnt for heat or to generate electricity. LNG is now also emerging as a cost-competitive and cleaner transport fuel, especially for shipping and heavy-duty road transport.
How do we make LNG?
See how we turn natural gas into a liquid for easier transport overseas
Title: What is LNG- Turning natural gas into liquid - from YouTube
Duration: 2:48 minutes
The methodology and benefits of the liquefaction of natural gas for transportation in order to meet the global energy demand.
What is LNG- Turning natural gas into liquid - from YouTube Transcript
[Background music plays]
Rhythmic instrumental music plays.
Aerial view of animated grey gridlines on a white background.
Pull back to wide view of 3D simulation of a city skyline rising out of the gridlined background.
Pan and pull back to aerial view of the skyline, which levels out to two 3D yellow blocks, labelled Population and Demand, still surrounded by a white background with grey gridlines, the blocks casting a shadow in front of them.
Pull back to wide front view of the blocks as four more appear frame-right of the first two. The blocks are labelled 2000, 2010, 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050, and rise incrementally in height from left to right. The blocks cast a slight grey shadow just in front of them against a white background.
The world’s population is growing and, for many, living standards will continue to improve. As a result, global energy demand is expected to double by 2050 when compared to 2000.
Population / Demand
To help meet this demand, gas will form an increasingly important role.
2000 / 2010 / 2020 / 2030 / 2040 / 2050
Zoom to the blocks as they decrease and disappear into the white, gridlined background.
Natural gas is plentiful, and it’s the cleanest-burning fossil fuel.
Aerial view of gridlined surface as a simulation of a rotating globe of the earth emerges from the surface, continents visible in a mustard colour and the oceans between in pale blue, the globe casting a faint grey shadow in a south-easterly direction.
But some natural gas resources are in remote locations: transporting the gas long distances by pipeline can be costly and impractical. The solution?
The simulation of the globe morphs into a teardrop of blue liquid against the white, gridlined background. The drop of liquid rolls downwards and disappears.
We liquefy the gas by cooling it, which shrinks its volume for easier, economical and safe transportation by ship.
Zoom in on a vertical cylindrical shape, a simulated pipeline, as it emerges out of the white, gridlined background.
Simulated gas particles of many colours float upwards through the pipe, and shadows appear either side of the pipe to simulate the reflection of the pipeline running along the ground’s surface.
Pan down to oblique, horizontal angle of the pipeline as coloured particles flow frame left to frame right, all still against the white background with grey gridlines and shadows.
Pull back to an aerial view of a network of pipes along which particles are flowing, all stemming from one pipe, similar to the shape of a fork, but with many tines.
So, how is liquefied natural gas produced? Natural gas extracted from the ground contains impurities, water and other associated liquids. First it is processed to clean it. It goes through a series of pipes and vessels where gravity helps separate the gas from some of the heavier liquids.
Pull back and pan to an aerial view of the whole plant, one of the large towers displaying the Shell logo.
Zoom to another section of the plant, showing a single pipeline, through which multi-coloured particles are flowing into a tank.
Zoom to close-up of particles, showing the yellow particles, representing carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, being absorbed into the background, disappearing, leaving green, blue, turquoise and purple particles flowing from frame-left to frame-right.
Blue particles, representing water, next veer towards a faint, grey circular opening in the background, disappearing from the simulated flow of particles.
Turquoise particles, representing mainly propane and butane, also veer towards yet another circular opening in the background, leaving many green and some purple particles, representing methane and ethane respectively.
Pull back to rear view of green and purple particles flowing away and disappearing to the top of frame as a bright white section slowly opens up at the top of the pipeline, still indicated by the white gridlined background.
Other impurities are then stripped out. The natural gas passes through a water-based solvent that absorbs carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. These would otherwise freeze when the gas is cooled and so cause blockages. Next any remaining water is removed, as this would also freeze. Finally, remaining lighter natural gas liquids – mainly propane and butane – are extracted to be sold separately or used as a refrigerant later in the cooling process. Traces of mercury are also filtered out. Now the purified natural gas – methane with some ethane – is ready to be liquefied.
Zoom to aerial view of a stylised line animation of three heat exchangers, with pipes flowing along the white gridlined background.
Zoom to central exchanger, the coolant, and pan to front view of the coolant’s yellow-rimmed window, showing cold air blasting downwards over a network of pipes.
Zoom to a close-up of the moving particles against the white-grey gridlined background as they decrease in size and cluster together to fill the screen.
Dissolve to aerial view of a beaker containing water, casting a shadow on the white surface, and panning to a front view of the beaker.
This happens in heat exchangers. A coolant, chilled by giant refrigerators, absorbs the heat from the natural gas. It cools the gas to -162°C, shrinking its volume by 600 times. This turns it into a clear, colourless, non-toxic liquid - liquefied natural gas, or LNG – that is much easier to store and transport.
Tanks and structures rise from the white-grey surface and the beaker becomes opaque and, as we pan to a front view, it turns into an insulated tank, displaying the Shell logo on its front. Pipes running from the tanks towards the foreground appear to flow with blue liquid, the remainder of the background still in whites and greys.
Pull back to aerial view of the plant in the background with an LNG vessel in the foreground, parts of its superstructure coloured in yellow.
The plant structures sink back into the white background as the shot pans down and back behind the stern of the ship. The ship moves rapidly across and out of the frame diagonally from frame-right to frame left.
The LNG is kept in insulated tanks until it is ready for loading into a specially designed LNG ship or carrier.
Quick pan to aerial view of the LNG vessel connected via pipeline to three tanks, blue liquid flowing from the vessel to the tanks.
Pan 180 degrees to three pipelines flowing out of the three tanks, the substance – now denoted by yellow- flowing rapidly along the pipelines which extend to the city skyline, again against the white and grey gridlined background.
Pull back to aerial view of the city and zoom out.
When the ship arrives at its destination, the LNG is transferred to a regasification plant where it is heated, returning it to its gaseous state. The gas is then transported via pipelines to customers, providing energy for homes and industry.
White flash dissolve to Shell logo.
Shell continues to help meet growing energy demand with cleaner burning natural gas.
Shell has played a leading role in technical safety research for many years. Our research has supported the development of safe designs for on- and offshore LNG facilities, terminals and ships.
Multiple layers of protection at LNG facilities are designed to reduce the risk of incidents: for example, by minimising any confined spaces where LNG vapour could accumulate and removing ignition sources.
Shell joint ventures operate a diverse portfolio of LNG plants and terminals around the world.
Fuelling a growing market with LNG
LNG is rapidly playing a bigger role in the energy mix. LNG trade increased from 100 million tonnes in 2000 to nearly 300 million tonnes in 2017.For comparison, just 80,000 tonnes of LNG were shipped by two carriers in 1964, the first year of the LNG trade.
Shell is involved at every stage of the LNG journey: finding the fields and extracting gas, liquefying gas and shipping it, then turning the LNG back into gas and distributing it to customers.
Our LNG presence
Shell is one of the world’s largest LNG shipping operators, managing and operating more than 40 carriers and has 50 on time-charter. Combined, these approximately 90 LNG carriers is around 20% of the global LNG shipping fleet.
Our trading operation buys and sells LNG to and from Shell, its partners and third parties, helping to meet customers' long-term energy needs and respond flexibly to short-term changes in demand.
Today Shell has LNG supply projects around the world. We also have a major interest in two regasification plants – Hazira,India and Dragon, UK –, and long-term access to capacity in several others in Europe, the Middle East and North America.
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