LNG 101

What is LNG?

Natural gas is recognized as affordable and clean burning, as well as safe to store and transport.

LNG Canada will export Canadian natural gas to Asian markets, and in the process, put Canada on the global map of LNG exporting countries and create a world-class liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in British Columbia and Canada.

To export natural gas, it first needs to be turned into its liquid form – LNG. This reduces its volume 600-fold and makes it practical to ship via specially designed LNG marine vessels.

LNG is odourless, colourless, non-toxic, non-corrosive, and non-flammable

To safely and efficiently transport British Columbia's natural gas to new markets, gas is cooled to -162°C, at which temperature it turns into a liquid. This liquefied natural gas is then stored at or around atmospheric pressure.

If LNG is inadvertently released, it quickly vapourizes as it warms, rises and disappears into the atmosphere, leaving no residue behind.

LNG cannot burn, as it doesn’t contain oxygen, which is needed to support combustion.

Shipping – a safety record to be proud of

LNG shipping has one of the best records in the shipping industry: more than 90,000 LNG cargoes delivered without a single cargo loss since the first commercial cargo was shipped in 1964. Shell, one of the LNG Canada Joint Venture Participants, was a pioneer in LNG marine transportation in 1964. Today, Shell safely manages a modern fleet of LNG ships and is involved in ventures that deliver 30 percent of the world’s LNG.

The safe transportation of LNG on British Columbia’s waterways is a key concern of the local community, shared by LNG Canada, which is why we insist on operating within the strictest standards and industry best practices – on land and at sea.

A large part of the reason LNG boasts such an excellent safety record is because the ships are designed and built to only transport LNG, and to very high standards. This means that every safety measure in place specifically addresses the needs of LNG shipping.

All LNG carriers adhere to rigorous safety standards and requirements that have been established through years of commercial LNG operations, and help ensure the protection of the world’s waterways.

LNG carriers’ passage to the LNG Canada facility will involve a 294 kilometre-long voyage from the sea. Commercial shipping to the Port of Kitimat at the head of the Kitimat Arm has been well established for decades. The LNG Canada shipping route is via the Dixon Entrance starting near the Triple Island Pilot Station and continues via Hecate Strait, Browning Entrance, Principe Channel, Nepean Sound, Otter Channel, Squally Channel, Lewis Passage, and Wright Sound before entering the Douglas Channel leading up to Kitimat.

The Douglas Channel is wide and has very deep water right up to the shore, and while it has a few turns, the LNG vessels will have a dedicated escort tug and two certified B.C. Marine Pilots on board – while in BC’s compulsory pilotage coastal waters – to ensure its safe passage to and from the terminal.

LNG ships

The LNG marine shipping industry’s safety record can be attributed, in part, to the robust and fit-for-purpose design of LNG carriers. All LNG carriers have double hulls, are insulated and use a cryogenic cargo containment system. Each of these features contributes to the ship’s overall safety and integrity. Strong international regulations, very well-defined operating procedures and over 50 years of experience, further contribute to ensuring safe operations of these vessels.

A typical LNG ship is expected to load at the LNG Canada terminal between 130,000 to 170,000 cubic meters of LNG. The fine hull form and 12.5 maximum draft of these ships means they don’t generate a significant amount of wake, as compared to other types of ships including ferries and bulk cargoes.

At full project build-out (the completion of four LNG processing units, or “trains”), 350 LNG ships are expected to visit the marine terminal annually. This means roughly one ship arriving and one ship departing every day.

How do LNG carriers differ from other marine vessels?

Click to view full size.

Why British Columbia?

Finding the right location for LNG Canada’s LNG export facility wasn’t easy. We chose British Columbia because it has the second largest natural gas reserves in Canada and is a reasonable shipping distance from Asian markets.

We identified and reviewed more than 500 possible locations through out the province prior to selecting our site in Kitimat, B.C., at the head of the Douglas Channel, in the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation.

We wanted to be as far inland as possible because it shortens the amount of pipeline needed to connect the gas reserves to our LNG export facility. Other key features of our site include:

  • Industrially zoned land
  • Year-round ice-free deep water port
  • Existing infrastructure such as roads, power lines and a nearby airport in Terrace
  • Positive relationships with local government, First Nations and the community

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