Good to know: LNG and LPG are not the same. LNG stands for liquefied natural gas, while LPG stands for “liquefied petroleum gas” in general.
How does LNG work?
The natural gas is transported from the extraction sites to a liquefaction plant. Natural gas is generally made up of a mixture of methane, hydrocarbons, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water and undesirable components such as sulfur compounds. These are removed before further processing. After that, the methane content is 98%, which makes LNG a particularly pure gas. Delivery of LNG from Qatar to the Chinese port of Tianjin: In order to get rid of Russian gas, Germany now wants to build two liquefied natural gas terminals. (Source: imago-images-bilder) The gas is cooled in several stages, making it liquid. In this form, it can be loaded and delivered, which is usually done by ships. The liquefied natural gas is then stored in insulated storage tanks at the terminals.
Is LNG an alternative to Russian gas?
For cost reasons, this was not the case before, since the energy requirements for the liquefaction described above are very high, around 10-25% of the energy content of the gas. As a result, it is not profitable only for a transport distance of around 2,500 kilometres. Below this distance, transport by gas pipeline is more energy efficient. This is why the current main importers of LNG are Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, representing almost 80% of the world volume. A smaller share also goes to Great Britain, Italy and Belgium, but fears of a gas embargo against Russia make LNG an attractive alternative. In 2020, Germany received 56 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia via three pipelines. To equalize this amount, approximately 750 tank truck loads would be required, which typically contain between 125,000 and 147,000 cubic meters. And that while liquefied gas already has 600 times less volume, on the basis of the whole of Europe, more than 4,000 tank loads would be necessary. Some countries are already preparing for this: one of the largest terminals is in Rotterdam. Capacity there is currently increased to 13.5 billion cubic meters per year.
Where could LPG come from?
Last year, a quarter of LNG in Europe came from the United States, 24% from Qatar and 20% from Russia. Europe has also obtained liquid gas from Nigeria and Algeria, reports the “Tagesschau”. But the demand has already increased considerably this year. According to the Brussels think tank Bruegel from almost 20 billion cubic meters to 50.4 billion in the first four months. Suppliers have also changed. In January, for example, the share of imports from the United States increased to 50%.