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Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): What is it and how does it impact the shipping industry?

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the most recent step towards lessening environmental impacts in the fueling industry. LNG occurs when natural gas is taken from a gaseous form and turned into liquid form. The benefit of using LNG is that it is non-pressurized, and is therefore easier and safer to transport. LNG is only 1/600ths the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state, so more can be shipped at a time. It is win-win for ships as LNG is easier to transport, more fuel efficient, and better for the environment because burning LNG results in less carbon emissions that other forms of fuel. Burning LNG releases 50-60% less carbon than coal. LNG is still a fossil fuel and does have impacts on the environment, but the impacts are less than traditional forms of fuel.

LNG has been rapidly growing over the years. The China National Offshore Oil Corps has started construction on the tenth major LNG port in China. There are many companies throughout the world that are making deals with governments and private investors to grow the LNG shipping industry. Some of these companies are: GasLog Limited, Golar LNG Ltd, and Höegh LNG.  This year it is projected that 40-50 LNG vessels are going to be ordered, a significant number of ships.

This rapid growth causes a big challenge for the LNG shipping industry because it is difficult for companies to find experience professionals in the field. Inexperienced workers could make a mistake on the vessel that could lead to natural disaster. For example, if there is an inexperienced worker pumping gas into a tank of doing a repair and they make an error, that could lead to a excessive gallons of LNG spilling into the ocean. This would be devastating for the industry and the marine environment. As the LNG industry grows, the culture of experienced workers will shift towards more sustainable and less environmental damaging forms of fuel, starting with LNG. 

NAMEPA’s goal is to preserve the marine environment by promoting sustainable marine industry best practices and educating seafarers, students and the public about the need and strategies for protecting global ocean, lake, and river resources.




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