Is LNG safe?

Is LNG Safe?

Natural gas is an important source of energy in British Columbia. But, when people talk about proposed LNG developments in B.C., the first thing that comes to mind is not the domestic benefits – such as for cooking and heat – it is whether it is safe for their communities and the environment. The reality is, many First Nations are more comfortable with LNG than oil due to several factors about the nature of LNG.

There are a lot of myths about LNG (or liquified natural gas). Many people tend to bundle “fossil fuels” into one giant vat and discount them completely.  But, it’s worth taking a closer look at LNG to see what the facts are before coming to a conclusion.

LNG is one of the safest and non-polluting fuels to transport and it is one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels out there.

People are worried about LNG polluting our oceans, but that view doesn’t fully look at the facts.  

In the rare event a spill should occur, LNG is non-polluting because it quickly dissipates once exposed to the open air and water. This is because LNG is created by cooling the gas into a liquid. When the LNG is exposed to open air or water it just warms up to its natural state and floats away.

To see this principle in action, take a look the following video which demonstrates, among several examples:

  1. Pouring LNG into a goldfish bowl and watching the gas dissipate.
  2. A person drinking a cup of water that just had LNG poured into it.

LNG is also a safe material to transport because it is non-explosive in its liquid form and the industry is highly regulated to contain risks. New achievements in LNG transport ship design and other handling practices have only increased the safety of this industry over the last thirty years. The double hulled ships are designed to exact standards to transport the liquefied gas. In a novel practice, any gas that evaporates during transport can sometimes be used to fuel the ship itself.

LNG has been safely carried on thousands of ships since the 1960’s with very few incidents and it is worth noting that while at sea there has never been a major spill, loss of cargo or environmental incident with LNG during all of this time. LNG is exported by many countries worldwide including Australia, Indonesia, Russia and more recently the United States.

In Canada, the Canaport facility in Saint John, New Brunswick has been safely bringing in LNG ships to its receiving and re-gasification terminal since 2009.

There are real reasons to consider LNG exports in B.C. The worldwide demand for natural gas is increasing and this is a market that can bring jobs and other benefits to First Nations in B.C. without compromising safety or the environment.

Main photo source: Canaport LNG