Human About Gas

LNG, energy from Mozambique

 By Eniday Staff
About gas

Considered by many to be the primary source of the most noble form of energy there is, and rightly so, the local and indeed global environmental footprint of natural gas is far lower than that of other sources such as coal and petroleum products, not to mention the fact that it is available in large quantities in many parts of the world, from the Mediterranean to Africa, the Americas to Asia…

Unsurprisingly then, given its many qualities, natural gas is the best option for supporting the Western world (and beyond) in successfully making the energy transition. That said, it does, of course, come with one drawback in that it is not easy to transport. Whereas we can load huge quantities of coal onto ships or trains that can travel around the world, and likewise extract oil from beneath the seabed and transport it on large ships to supply the world’s refineries (or send it across reasonable distances via oil pipelines), things become somewhat more difficult when dealing with natural gas.

The long journeys of natural gas

Transporting it requires a pipeline or channel that can sometimes need to be several thousand kilometres long, such as the ones that stretch from Russia, Algeria and the North Sea to our own transport network, not to mention the distribution infrastructure required to transport the gas to thousands of industrial plants, tens of thousands of apartment blocks and millions of kitchen hobs. Then, of course, this network of pipelines requires complex monitoring and safety systems. But could there be an alternative solution? There could, and there is, and it is becoming increasingly popular, this solution being liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Make no mistake, this is no ordinary technology and it is certainly not an easy or economical solution; it involves cooling the gas extracted from the wells to around -160°C, loading it onto specially designed LNG carrier ships and transporting it to the areas in which it will be used and, eventually, regasified so that it can be transported via gas pipeline networks. LNG can, of course, also be used as is to fuel ships or large trucks or even trains running on non-electrified lines. The most convenient and widespread method of transporting methane, however, is via pipelines, from those measuring nearly 1.5m in diameter that run from the gas wells in Algeria and Russia to the 10mm copper pipe that feeds your kitchen appliances.

An LNG carrier ship (Reuters)

GNL in Mozambique

There is another benefit of using LNG in that it also makes it possible to transport gas from very distant lands, meaning that resources that Eni has identified off the coast of Egypt, near Cyprus, for example, can be redirected using a series of pipelines. But what about those in the Indian Ocean, or the huge deposits discovered in Mozambique by Eni itself, along with American firm Anadarko? These deposits have been proven to represent over 500 billion m3 in just one of the four prospecting areas off the northern coast of the African country, representing a potential total of over 2 trillion m3 (enough to fulfil Italy’s needs for the next 30 years). The total investment, which will see Eni perform the relevant offshore extraction operations and ExxonMobil create the gas liquefaction plant, is valued at over $20bn and includes projects to be developed by French company Total, which recently announced its intention to take over Anadarko’s LNG operations, meaning that it could potentially become the world’s second-largest player in the sector.
With regards to Mozambique, where $20 billion equates to a little under half of the gross domestic product, the project represents an extraordinary opportunity for development that could give the country a real boost following the major natural disasters it has suffered in recent months (such as Cyclone Idai, which struck the country in March, resulting in thousands of deaths, leaving 400,000 homeless and causing $3bn worth of damage). Where Italy and the other countries involved are concerned, meanwhile, this plan to exploit methane resources represents a major step towards implementing an increasingly low-carbon energy policy.

The floating gas liquefaction unit (FLNG) named "Coral Sul" which will operate in the offshore region of Mozambique, this carrier contains a treatment and liquefaction plant

Not to mention the technological challenge of building two trains with the capacity to liquefy 7.6 million tonnes of LNG per year, a ship with the ability to liquefy the gas as well as transport it, and the relevant offshore extraction platforms, in which Italy has led the technological race for decades now.
In short, we can expect the future growth in liquefied natural gas to far exceed any expectations we might have had a decade ago. There are two pieces of data that confirm this, the first being that the demand for natural gas is continuously increasing on the whole, with 2018 seeing a 4.6% rise following a rise of over 3% in 2017. LNG alone, however, is accounting for an ever-greater proportion of this increase, achieving annual average growth rates of over 5 percentage points, and Mozambique is set to be one of the promised lands where this revolution is concerned.

READ MORE: Steel and coral off Mozambique by Marilia Cioni

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Eniday Staff