LNG is liquefied natural gas, which is natural gas that has been converted to liquid form. Natural gas is made mostly of methane (CH4), the simplest hydrocarbon compound. Natural gas changes to a liquid state at about minus 259 degrees Fahrenheit (-259°F) the same way water turns to a liquid when cooled below 212 degrees Fahrenheit (212°F). LNG takes up 1/600th the physical space required when in gaseous form. Thus, LNG provides an economical way to ship natural gas from one location to another. LNG is odorless, colorless, non-corrosive, and non-toxic.
LNG is typically stored at atmospheric pressure in insulated tanks. From storage, LNG is converted back into gas (vaporization) and fed into a natural gas pipeline system. For decades, LNG has also been transported by truck to satellite storage sites for various applications.
We are pursuing the use of LNG in Hawai'i to use as a form of emergency backup energy to ensure reliable service to our customers. We also believe LNG is a viable option to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and has other possible applications that will benefit our state.
Our studies have shown that LNG provides a direct benefit to our existing and future customers by lowering the cost of utility gas on O'ahu. Since vaporized LNG is chemically the same as our Synthetic Natural Gas and Renewable Natural Gas, we can create a cost-effective blend of synthetic, renewable and clean burning natural gas all while continuing to reduce our carbon footprint.
HAWAI'I GAS completed an independent economic feasibility study in September 2012 led by global engineering firm CH2M Hill. The study examined the technical and economic viability of LNG for Hawai'i including market demand, facility locations, cost and estimated savings versus Hawaii's current energy fuel supply mix. The State of Hawai'i, Hawai'i Natural Energy Institute, also conducted its own study on LNG. The findings from both studies were similar and include:
LNG can replace SNG and requires equipment modification for propane appliances. LNG is chemically similar to SNG in that they are both predominantly made up of methane (CH4). Any home or business located near the HAWAI'I GAS pipeline can use cost-effective, clean burning LNG to cook, heat, and dry.
LNG has an impeccable safety record. According to a Department of Energy report, LNG transports experienced no serious accident at sea or in port in the past 40 years. In large part this is due to comprehensive safety and security programs for LNG tankers and receiving terminals. LNG facilities and vessels feature state-of-the-art natural gas, fire, and smoke detection systems that identify hazardous situations and automatic shutdown systems that halt operations. Security measures for waterfront portions of marine terminals and LNG ships are regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard preventing other ships from getting near LNG tankers while in transit or docked at a terminal. For more information on LNG safety please read more from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In the short term LNG will be purchased in the mainland US. Once demand becomes large enough, Hawai'i can import LNG via tanker from North America. Importing LNG in this fashion will enable the state to take advantage of economies of scale, but will also require a significant amount of infrastructure including a terminal facility to offload, store and distribute LNG.