Frequently Asked Questions
What is LNG?
Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is the liquid form of natural gas. It is a clear, colourless, odourless, clean burning fuel. It is taken out of the ground as natural gas, and becomes a liquid when it is cooled to -162 degrees Celsius. The cooling process reduces the volume of natural gas by more than 600 times – which is making it easier and safer to store and transport.
What is natural gas?
Natural gas is composed primarily of methane (90%) but may also contain ethane, propane and heavier hydrocarbons. Small quantities of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, sulfur compounds and water may also be found in natural gas.
How does LNG become natural gas?
Through a process called regasification, LNG is warmed until it returns to its original gaseous state as natural gas. This natural gas can then be transported through underground pipelines and distributed to customers who use it for cooking, home heating, generating electrical power and many other everyday uses.
How does LNG become the natural gas we use?
When LNG arrives at the Canaport LNG regasification terminal, it will be pumped from the LNG ship to the three specially designed storage tanks. When it is ready to be used, the LNG is then pumped from the storage tanks into vapourizers where it is warmed back to its gaseous state as natural gas.
How is LNG transported by sea?
LNG is transported by sea in double-hulled ships that are specifically designed to handle the liquefied gas at -162 degrees Celsius. These carriers are insulated to limit the amount of LNG that boils off or evaporates; sometimes this boil off gas is used as fuel to power the ship.
Is LNG flammable or explosive?
LNG is not flammable or explosive in its liquid state. LNG vapours (its natural gas form) are only flammable within a limited range of concentration in the air. If the concentration of natural gas in the air is lower than 5% it cannot burn because of insufficient fuel. If the concentration of natural gas in the air is higher than 15% it cannot burn because there is insufficient oxygen. Therefore, the fire hazard of LNG is preconditioned on the LNG being released, the LNG vaporizing, mixing with air in a very narrow gas to air ratio of 5-15% and finally finding an ignition source. LNG vapor will only explode if in an enclosed space and if within the flammable range of 5%-15% when mixed with air.
Have there been any LNG accidents?
The LNG industry has a history of being one of the safest energy production industries in the world. There have been very few major incidents of damage or life-threatening harm associated with LNG. In the past 70 years, there have been three incidents in LNG terminals in North America: two in the 1970s and one in 1944.
Of the two in the 1970s, one was a construction accident, not an LNG accident, according to The New York Fire Department. The other was the result of a faulty seal that allowed gas to leak into an electrical substation that was not equipped with natural gas detectors. This led to three new major design code changes, including mandatory gas detectors in all related buildings.
The 1944 incident occurred in Cleveland and was the result of safety standards compromised due to the fact that nickel – essential to building LNG tanks – was in low supply because of the war effort. The tanks in Cleveland were constructed with a low nickel steel content, which compromised their structure. Today’s safety standards for LNG storage tanks require that 9 per cent nickel be used in all tanks.
The Canaport LNG Terminal has followed all safety standards for natural gas as set out by the Canadian Standards Association, the same organization that sets safety standards for common products like bicycle helmets, electrical appliances and propane tanks. The Terminal has also followed world-class safety design standards.
What about possible security threats?
Safety and security are top priorities at Canaport LNG. We maintain a highly trained security force at the Terminal 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, we are using numerous advanced technologies to maintain the safety and security of employees and our neighbours.
The Canadian Marine Transportation Security Act and Regulations does not allow port facilities to discuss any detailed security measures. However, a Marine Facility Security Plan for the Canaport LNG facility has been approved by Transport Canada, and has been implemented at the terminal.
Using the knowledge gained from the experiences of the few historical incidents and countless studies, the Canaport LNG facility has been designed to be able to contain and manage potential crisis situations.
What would happen if there were a spill or a release from a tanker?
LNG tankers have several layers of protection to reduce the possibility that a spill could occur. Even a direct breach of the outer layer would not cause a spill. In the unlikely event of a release from a tanker, the liquid would warm up and change back into a gas, and, because it is lighter than air, the gas would quickly dissipate, leaving no residue behind and causing no environmental damage to the water or land.
Why does the Canaport LNG terminal use a flare?
The flare is an integral part of the Terminal’s safety pressure release system; therefore, flaring is part of the standard operation at LNG terminals to maintain normal operating pressure by burning off small amounts of excess natural gas. The flare structure is designed as a safety release system and is both normal and required for the safe operation of an LNG terminal.
What does it mean when the flare is visible at the Canaport LNG Terminal?
Flaring can occur for various reasons to maintain normal operating pressure. Canaport LNG has experienced intermittent flaring during its initial start-up phase; while undergoing planned maintenance on the process equipment; and while receiving a new supply of LNG.