LNG FAQs

Who is Oregon LNG?

Oregon LNG is a company committed to the safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible export of natural gas in the form of Liquefied natural Gas (LNG). Also, Oregon LNG will serve as a back-up source of natural gas for the regional market during times of unusually high demand and during times of outages on the Interstate Pipeline System that serves Oregon.

What is LNG?

LNG stands for liquefied natural gas. It is natural gas cooled to approximately -260° F at ambient air pressure. It is odorless, non-corrosive, non-toxic, and less than half the density of water. Essentially, it is the same natural gas more than 64 million Americans use to heat and cool their homes, only in a liquid state. LNG is not stored under pressure.

How is natural gas liquified, then re-gasified and is this conversion safe?

The conversion of natural gas into liquid is called liquefaction and is achieved through refrigeration. Liquefaction reduces the volume of natural gas by approximately 600 times, making it more economical to transport in specially designed ships. LNG is converted back to gas by passing the liquid through vaporizers that warm it to approximately 35° F. Both the liquefaction and re-gasification processes are performed using advanced technologies with proven safety records.

Why is there so much interest in LNG?

LNG is not new. It has been successfully transported and used for almost 100 years. Recently technology has been developed, which will allow US and Canadian producers to supply the market with low-cost natural gas for at least a hundred years. This has created a strong desire among producers to export natural gas to Asia, where there is a huge demand for natural gas to replace coal fired and nuclear power plants. Since natural gas can only be transported over such vast distances in the form of LNG.

What are the advantages of LNG?

LNG takes up a much smaller fraction of space than natural gas. Six hundred cubic feet of natural gas turns into just one cubic foot of liquefied natural gas. In areas where geologic conditions are not suitable for developing underground gas storage facilities, LNG has provided the opportunity to economically store natural gas. The gas is stored at what are called peak-shaving facilities, for use during high-demand periods. It is stored as a liquid at these facilities until it is needed, at which point it is returned to its gaseous state and sent through pipelines to consumers.

Since the volume of LNG is 600 times smaller than natural gas, it is more efficiently transported over long distances by sea. This takes place in specially designed ships.

How does the United States benefit from LNG?

LNG exports will create prosperity in the US. LNG is a value-added product, which is sold at a premium in Asia. The production and export of LNG will mean that many thousands of well-paying jobs in the US can be sustained long-term through the exploration, production, transportation, and delivery of natural gas and through the construction, operation, and maintenance of pipelines and LNG export facilities and related industries.

Where will the natural gas for the Oregon LNG project come from? 

The Oregon LNG facility will receive all or at least the vast majority of its natural gas from gas fields in British Columbia or Alberta. This Canadian gas will be exported to Asia either through ports in British Columbia or through ports in Oregon.

Is LNG likely to result in an increase in US natural gas prices?

As part of its export permit application to the US Department of Energy, Oregon LNG has commissioned a study from Navigant Consulting concerning the impact of exports on local prices. The study concluded that the exports of natural gas from the Oregon LNG facility would likely result in very minor price increases at the local level and that the benefits from these export would far outweigh the minor price increases.

Can LNG be shipped safely?

Yes. LNG has an excellent safety record. In LNG's 50-plus year shipping history, LNG carriers have conducted more than 100,000 voyages worldwide, traveling more than 125 million miles without a major incident. Over the life of the industry only eight marine incidents worldwide have resulted in accidental spillage of LNG. In these cases no fires occurred and only minor structural damage was noted. Seven additional marine-related incidents have occurred with none resulting in release of cargo. No explosions or fatalities from a cargo spill have ever occurred aboard an LNG carrier.

What measures have been taken to ensure the LNG ships are safe?

LNG transportation by ships began in 1959. Since that time, more than 100,000 shipments of LNG have been safely transported to and stored at terminals all over the world, including the United States, Europe, and Asia. Many of these import facilities are close to populated areas where demand for natural gas is greatest. The best example of this is Tokyo Bay, which is home to four import terminals that see the arrival of one LNG cargo every 20 hours. All LNG ships are fitted with a sophisticated array of cargo monitoring and control devices, and numerous navigation and communication systems. The officers and crew must comply with strict international and U.S. Coast Guard shipping industry standards, and have special training in the handling of LNG and its associated safety equipment. In addition, all ships that transport LNG are double-hulled, operated by highly trained crews, employ numerous other safety provisions, and are frequently inspected. There has never been a major shipping incident in port or on the seas that has resulted in a loss of containment. In addition, LNG shippers have redoubled their already stringent efforts to ensure transportation security in light of heightened awareness of terrorist activity.

A Liquefied Natural Gas Ship and Containment System

The LNG for the Oregon LNG Project will be delivered in these specially built ships. LNG vessels are among the most expensive and best maintained ships in the world. The LNG shipping and facilities continues to make steady advances in security and safety. The safety record of LNG ships far exceeds any other sector of the shipping industry and LNG terminals have advanced safety systems and are regularly inspected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and U.S. Department of Transportation.

Other key components of LNG ship and product transfer safety include the following:

  • Ships are doubled hulled and designed in such a way that even if a collision occurred and penetrated the outer hull, the LNG cargo storage would remain intact.
  • Ships are built to International Maritime Organization (IMO) safety standards.
  • Some of the protection systems on LNG ships include fire and smoke detection, thermal sensors, radar, global positioning and monitoring systems, global marine distress systems, safety detection and emergency shutdown systems.
  • Systems are designed to protect the integrity of the cargo and avoid any accidental release unless by ensuring all systems are functioning properly to allow transfer of product.
  • Product unloading arms are designed to automatically shutdown the transfer system and disconnect the unloading line should a ship move out of position during product transfer.
  • Security plans approved and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard must be in place for all LNG ships operating in United States waters. These plans will identify escort and security buffers as appropriate.
  • Access to the ships will be restricted during transit and at port during unloading operations.
  • Security checks of vessel personnel

Can LNG leak from a storage tank?

There are numerous layers of robust safety and security systems in place to prevent any such incidents. There are also monitoring systems in place to quickly detect a leak and trigger the safety systems. Storage tanks are built with multiple layers of containment. There is an external dike around the tank designed to contain its entire contents. Beyond this dual containment system required by federal regulations, many modern tanks have two walls - an inner wall of high nickel steel surrounded by a wall of concrete, generally three feet thick. Should the inner steel wall fail, the outer concrete tanks will contain the LNG. Here's a picture of tanks which are similar to those Oregon LNG will be building at the site.

Will it burn if it is released into the air or in storage facilities?

Should a tank ever fail and a leak result, fire is possible, but only if there is the right concentration of LNG vapor in the air (5 percent - 15 percent) and a source of ignition within this concentration zone. Regulations require safety zones around LNG facilities. Setback distances must be great enough so that flammable vapors will not reach the facilities' property lines and radiation from a potential fire will not impact those beyond the facilities' property line.

Would a spill of LNG result in a polluting slick?

No. If spilled, LNG would not result in a slick. Absent an ignition source, LNG evaporates quickly and disperses, leaving no residue. There is no environmental cleanup needed for LNG water spills.

Are there restrictions for LNG facilities’ proximity to residential areas?

Yes. The federal government's U.S. Code of Federal Regulations specifies that LNG containers and transfer systems must be far enough away from residential areas to protect residents and property in case of an accident. The distance depends on various factors, including storage tank design.

Are LNG facilities or ships likely terrorist targets?

All parts of our critical energy infrastructure have been reassessed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Security consciousness throughout the United States is heightened. Shippers have redoubled their already-stringent efforts to ensure security of transportation and the safety of terminals. There is no indication that LNG facilities or ships are more likely terrorist targets than other cargo ships or higher visibility political targets such as federal or state landmarks, transportation infrastructures, public gatherings, or bridges and tunnels.

Nonetheless, LNG facilities work closely with U.S. agencies charged with national security, and many developers contract with international experts who test their plans, procedures, people and training to ensure they are sound. First, stringent access controls exist at both the point of origin and the point of destination. Both the liquefaction and LNG import terminals have gated security access and continuous surveillance monitoring. Second, highly specialized, well-trained personnel serve as crewmembers, whose backgrounds have been thoroughly checked by the authorities. Before an LNG ship enters U.S. waters, the immigration service validates the crew. There is a safety zone required between carriers and other traffic, and tugboats control the direction of carriers as they approach a terminal. Oversight is handled by the U.S. Coast Guard and host port authority pilots. Finally, the U.S. Coast Guard boards ships before they enter U.S. waters if it is deemed necessary.

What measures are taken to ensure LNG storage facilities’ safety?

LNG facilities' safety requirements along with the industry standards and best practices are designed to ensure the safety and security of all LNG facilities. Storage tanks and other equipment must be made of suitable materials with the proper engineering design. There are secondary containment systems - designed to hold more than the storage tank - to ensure isolation and control of LNG if a leak occurs. When necessary, LNG storage tanks are double-walled to further enhance their integrity.