experimentation on the gaseous properties started in the early 17th century.
The inverse relationship between pressure and volume of gases was derived in
the middle of 17th century by Robert Boyle (Helrich, 2009, p. 122). The
temperature effect on gases was also discovered during the same period by
Guillaume Amontons. For the next 200 years, various experiments on gases were
undertaken, especially the focus on liquefying gases. The experimentation led
to many discoveries, for instance, the maximum temperature above which gas
could not be liquefied was discovered by Cagniard de la Tour in the 19th
century (Reif-Acherman, 2011, p. 2). The late 19th century saw a
push to liquefy all gases. Scientists, such as James Joule, Michael Faraday and
William Thomson undertook experiments to liquefy gases. The primary component in natural gas,
methane, was liquefied by Karol Olszewski in 1886. All the gases had been
liquefied by 1900 except helium which was later liquefied in 1908. As a means
of extracting helium, the US government undertook a large-scale project to
liquefy natural gas. The helium extracted was used in WWI; however, the liquid
natural gas (LNG) was regasified and put into the mains and was not stored.
Natural gas liquefaction was patented in 1915 by Godfrey Cabot (Smil, 2015, p.
119). His patent consisted of a thermos bottle that could store liquid gases at
very low temperatures. The patent for large-scale natural gas liquefaction was
granted to Lee Twomey in 1937. Liquefaction allowed for the storage of natural
gas in gas form at a temperature of -162oC (-260oF)
(Kidnay, and Parrish, 2006, p. 11).
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNP)
refers to a natural gas that is odorless, nontoxic, noncorrosive, and clear
liquefied formed when the gas is cooled to approximately -260oF
(Kidnay, and Parrish, 2006, p. 11). The volume of the gas is shrunk to
approximately 600 times the original volume which allows the LNG to be
transported and stored in the marine shipments. The LNP is not explosive or
flammable in the liquid state and is not stored under pressure. Moreover, the
gas does not cause explosions as it cannot be rapidly released to cause
overpressures (Kidnay, and Parrish, 2006, p. 12).
has the potential to reduce the fuel costs which is the main factor in cost
considerations in inland barging. The fuel costs can take upwards of 50% of the
total costs of transportation. The other potential benefits of LNP include
higher efficiency of the modern fleets, lower air emissions and increase the
competitiveness which is a contributor to the economic growth (Kidnay, and
Parrish, 2006, p. 246). The three main benefits of LNP can be categorised in
the form of safety, economic and environmental. The safety benefits of LNP can
be seen in terms of safe transportation, safe storage, and safety in the usage.
The standards of safety for fuels, i.e., storage, transport, and usage, have
all been made by the LNP. The economic benefits of LNP include the economic
savings that are made in both the transportation and usage of the fuels.
Finally, there are the environmental benefits; for example, there is no need
for remediation of surface water, soil, and groundwater in the event of spills.
Unlike crude oil and the fuels derived from crude, the LNP spills quickly
dissipate into the atmosphere.
of LNP is undertaken in specially designed ships. The ships have double hulls
that protect the cargo from leaks or damage (Kidnay, and Parrish, 2006, p.
252). The membrane of the LNG vessel undergoes a number of integrity tests to
check to protect against potential leaks. The total cost of the tanker is in
the range of $200,000 million per vessel.
See Figure 1-3
Figure 1: Sketch of LNP Tanker
Figure 2: LNP Cargo Tank (LNP
Figure 3: Interior of an LNP cargo
most important aspects of the gas business are the supply and transportation.
This is based on the fact that the natural gas reserves are very distant from
the markets. The volume of natural gas that transported is normally higher than
the volume of oil thus the majority of the volumes of natural gas are
transported through the use of pipelines (Kidnay, and Parrish, 2006, p. 259).
The national gas lines that exist cover the former Soviet Union, North America,
and Europe. The natural gas has a lower density than oil even under higher
pressure conditions. Before the transportation of natural gas, the below
process undertaken is shown in figure 4. The natural gas is first cooled to -260oF at atmospheric pressure. This is the
point where the gas condenses into a liquid. The LNG carrier vessels have tanks
that the liquid gas in the cold state during the storage and transportation.
Figure 4: Processes before transportation of LNP
remain liquid, the LNG must be kept cold, independent of pressure. In spite of
the use of efficient insulation, some heat leakage will inevitably get into the
LNG, resulting in vaporization of the LNG (Kidnay, and Parrish, 2006, p. 292).
The boil-off gas from the vaporization acts to keep the LNG cold. The boil-off
gas is typically compressed and exported as natural gas, or it is re-liquefied
and returned to storage.
number of measures are undertaken in the operation, construction, and design of
the LNP facilities to ensure reliable and safe operation. LNP in its liquid
state cannot burn and is not explosive. LNP must first vaporise and mix with
the proper amounts of air – the flammable range is between 5% and 15% – to be
ignited and burn. When the LNP leaks, there is rapid vaporization which turns
it into gas – methane and trace gases – which then mix with the aim (Kidnay,
and Parrish, 2006, p. 309). When the mixture of the gases and air are within the
flammable range, there is a risk of ignition that can create thermal radiation
and fire hazards.
New technologies in the early 2000s led to an
increased intensity in the building of vessels, receiving terminals and LNP
terminal as a result of the lower costs. Many countries thus invested in the
liquefaction and regasification projects (Curt, 2004). The figure below shows
the major trade movements of LNP in 2002 (Billion Cubic Feet). The major
terminals can be explained in terms of the imports and the exports.
5: Major LNP trade movements in billion cubic feet (2002)
The number of export countries
increased to 18 in 2016. This is because countries, such as Egypt and Angola
that were earlier producing LNG but stopped the exports began to export the LNG
again. Figure 6 below indicates the top LNG exporting countries in the world.
In 2016, Qatar posted the highest exports of LNG accounting for 54% of the
6: Top LNG exporting countries in 2016
The imports of LNG have also risen in
the last couple of years due to the increased demand. The top importing
countries are Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Taiwan. Table 7 indicates
the high LNG importing countries in 2016.
7: Top LNG Importing Countries
The production begins with the
feeding of the natural gas into the LNG plant to extract hydrogen sulfide,
carbon dioxide, water, benzene and other elements that would freeze at low
temperatures. The achievement of low temperature is critical for the storage.
The elements that freeze are also removed so that the liquefaction facility
cannot be destroyed (Kidnay, and Parrish, 2006, p. 309). LNG normally contains
over 90 percent methane. It also has small quantities of ethane, propane,
butane, some heavier alkanes, and nitrogen. The purification process of LNG is
designed to produce almost 100% methane. The one major risk that is faced in
the production is that of rapid phase transition explosion (RPT). RPT occurs
when cold LNG comes into contact with water.
Potential Applications of LNP
The production of LNG is geared
towards use in an internal combustion engine. The fuel is at an early stage of
testing for use in transportation needs. The LNG is also being tested and
evaluated for use in off-road, marine, trucking and train applications
(Fylaktos, 2013). The current concerns regarding the use of the LNG are the
problems with the delivery of gas to the engine and the fuel tanks. Despite the
above concerns and problems, there is strong momentum for the development of
the LNG towards the above uses. LNG directly competes with compressed natural
gas for use in a natural gas vehicle. This is due to the fact that the engines
are identical. LNG also has potential use in boats, buses, trucks, and trains.
The aim is to increase the cost-effectiveness of transportation especially in
the communities where there is no access to pipelines or local gas supply.
Production of LNG in Eastern Mediterranean
There are prospects for the
production and export of LNG in the Eastern Mediterranean countries of Cyprus
and Israel. The current discussions regarding the prospects for the export of
the gas have focused on the two countries due to the high potentials that they
have (Fylaktos, 2013). Previously, Egypt was the major exporter of gas from the
Eastern Mediterranean countries. The discussion must thus move away from the
quantity of gas that the two terminals in Egypt could export regionally and
internationally to Europe, North America, and Asia.
Now and the Future of LNG in Eastern Mediterranean
Currently, Egypt is the major
exporter of natural gas in the region. The discovery of natural gas at Zohr –
south of the maritime border between South Cyprus and Egypt – has given
indications that Egypt may be on track towards fulfilling the demand for the
natural gas in the region. However, the discovery of the natural gas deposits
in the maritime border of the two countries has also increased interest in
Cyprus; especially during the recent round of licensing (Koutantou and
Maltezou, 2015). Shell has undertaken an agreement with Cyprus. This has led to
massive investments by the firm in the natural gas resources of Cyprus. Cyprus
may be a source of import for Egypt. The gas that is imported by Egypt can be
re-exported from the Mothballed Idku liquefaction terminal. The import from
Cyprus may help the Egyptian terminal to achieve closer to capacity production
in the facility. Currently, the Cypriot government is exploring the
economically viable means through which the gas can reach the market.
Benefits of LNG to Cyprus
LNG is currently being used in
catering and heating elements of domestic consumption. The discovery of the
natural gas in Cyprus will also bring a number of benefits, such as lower costs
and cleaner energy. The government of Cyprus hopes to bring LNG to the country
by 2020. The other benefits include the diversification of the energy mix of
the country. The country will be able to realise its energy goals by
eliminating the energy isolation of the island, improve the energy supply
security, and also lead to cleaner energy that helps in reducing global warming
(Fylaktos, 2013). Cyprus will; therefore, be able to meet its EU obligations
and goals towards the environment. Further, the LNG is also a prerequisite for
the electricity market liberalization. Furthermore, the LNG supply will also
help in the development of infrastructure such as the ports. The ports will
then be used in the transportation of the LNG.
Transmission and Distribution Authority in Cyprus
The Cyprus Regulatory Authority for
Energy (CERA) operationalised by the Natural Gas Market Law Regulation has a
number of responsibilities. They include the promotion of the development of
economically robust and efficient gas market; ensure safety, continuity in the
provision; and quality and efficiency in the supply of natural gas (CERA,
Transforming Cyprus into an Energy Exporting Country
The natural gas found in Israel and
Cyprus is positioned between high priced LNG markets of Asia and Europe. The
natural gas composition of the two countries is excellent thus require limited
processing. The benign weather in the two countries is also favorable for the
production and transportation of the LNG (CERA, 2017). The current plans to
develop a world-class LNG hub at Vasilikos will provide Cyprus with an
opportunity to undertake liquefaction of the natural gas from Israel and
‘shale gas revolution’ in the United States created an oversupply of liquefied
natural gas. This led to downward pressure on gas prices across the globe. New
gas discoveries in deep water offshore East Africa and Eastern Mediterranean
are also likely to compete for LNG market share in growing European and Asian
gas markets. Developing an LNG Terminal is the best option of exporting natural
gas to European and Asian markets for Cyprus. The energy sector is a key area
of cooperation between the countries of the region which can also constitute a
ground of stability especially between Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Israel. The
development of the LNG hub will solve the Cyprus problem; thus, the gas could
be exported to other countries. The LNG project development has the potential
to transforms Cyprus into a regional energy hub and energy and political bridge
between EU and the Middle East Countries