Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a natural gas converted into liquid form for ease of transportation and storage. LNG takes about 1/600th of volume of natural gas. It is colorless, odorless, non-toxic and non-corrosive in nature. Liquefaction is carried out by cooling natural gas to -1620 C (- 2620 F), followed by the removal of certain components such as acid gases, impurities and dust. Thereafter, LNG is stored in cylindrical shaped and domed roof cryogenic tanks. This prevents LNG from vaporization. Generally, cryogenic tanks are made up of materials such as concrete, steel and nickel. These tanks are well insulated and kept at a very low pressure. Large underground tanks are also utilized for storage; smaller quantities of LNG are stored above the ground in vertical or horizontal tanks.
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End-user segment in the LNG market comprises industrial, electric power and other sector applications such as transportation and commercial. Industrial sector is expected to be the most dominating sector in terms of demand for LNG. Various industries such as chemicals, fertilizers and steel utilize high quantities of LNG as operational fuel. Industrial processes consume huge quantities of distillate fuels. Transition to LNG from conventional fuels can help industries save significant capital. Various equipment such as drilling equipment, industrial boilers and mining equipment utilize high quantities of LNG due to large number of benefits it offers such as low cost and no emissions.
Demand for LNG is high in the electric power sector due to less cost and favorable heat rate. This makes LNG a preferred fuel. Various government policies make it mandatory to use LNG in the industrial sector in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. LNG-based electric power plants effectively and efficiently support high load during peak hours. LNG is the preferred fuel for small-scale captive power plants that are specially designed for in-house power generation and these small scale power plants can easily support load up to 100 MW. Industries located in remote areas can operate easily by installing captive power plants using LNG as fuel.
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Other sectors such as transportation and commercial utilize LNG due to high variation in prices of fuel such as diesel and petrol. Vehicle emission norm is the major factor that propels the use of LNG in the transportation sector. Countries such as France and Spain use LNG in order to reduce dependence on oil import and prevent atmosphere from being polluted through combustion of traditional fuels. Conventional fuels such as diesel and petrol emit high amount of COx on combustion. This raises the overall carbon footprint. However, LNG is comparatively cleaner and emits less COx and SOx. LNG has 85% lesser volatile organic content than diesel. On combustion, it produces 70% lesser COx and NOx as compared to conventional fuels.
Asia Pacific dominated the global LNG market in terms of volume due to high demand from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Emerging economies such as India and China import large quantities of LNG as domestic gas production is not enough to cater to the domestic needs of these countries. Europe is also expected to be a booming market for LNG as countries such as Spain, the U.K and France are importing high quantities of LNG. Rest of the World (RoW) is anticipated to witness a moderate growth rate as large number of gas reserves exist in the Middle East.
Apache Corporation, BG Group Plc, Cheniere Energy Inc, ConocoPhillips, Dominion Resources Inc, Kinder Morgan Inc, Qatar Petroleum, Sempra Energy, Veresen Inc and Woodside Petroleum Ltd are likely to dominate the liquefied natural gas market in the coming future.