LNG infrastructure can be separated in two main elements: 1. Full-scale, spanning from the large liquefaction facilities to big import terminals, with tanks holding hundreds of thousands of cubic metres. This part of the infrastructure is well established both commercially and in terms of the technology. 2. Small-scale, starting at LNG distribution sources such as import terminals through to the end consumer of LNG. This part of the infrastructure is an emerging industry.
Shipments of LNG as cargo began with a single ship in the 1950s. Today, the global LNG shipping fleet numbers several hundred carriers, ranging in cargo volume from 1,000 m3 to the current largest carriers with 266,000 m3. This is a well-established industry with pricing mechanisms, established contractual models and proven technology and operations.
The segment provides a link between LNG production and liquefaction plants and import terminals on the consumption side. The re-export and distribution of small quantities of LNG from import or export terminals to end consumers such as ships is not currently industrialised. Technically this can already be done and is carried out for individual projects. First bunkering ships are operating since summer 2017, other will follow soon.
LNG fuel in northern Europe
LNG installations of various sizes exist across northern Europe, in particular in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, the UK at the Channel, Norway at the North Sea, and in Poland, Lithuania and Sweden along the Baltic Sea. Their main purpose is to secure gas supply. In the European hinterland, small LNG facilities for local supply also exist and leading European truck manufacturers are already introducing LNG-fuelled trucks into their fleets. However, to establish a seamless LNG infrastructure across northern Europe and beyond, these existing facilities need to be integrated with a supply chain.
LNG in north America
A pro-LNG approach within the US maritime industry, combined with the abundance of inexpensive natural gas in North America, has led to a surge in LNG-related activities in the USA. Several owners are already committed to switching to LNG, with the help of DNV GL, in order to meet strictly limited emissions to air allowed under the North American ECA requirements and Phase II of California’s Ocean Going Vessel (OGV) Clean Fuel Regulation. This step forward will give yards the opportunity to develop and showcase new competencies, while spurring on infrastructure development around the country.