Climate Change

Science deniers at the helm

John Horgan hopes sales of liquified natural gas (LNG) will allow a large expansion in natural gas production. His government said British Columbia produces “the world’s cleanest natural gas.” In the same 2019 press release, Justin Trudeau echoed that statement.

The fiction of BC producing clean fossil fuel originated with Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals. The claim was as honest as the one about LNG rewarding the province with one trillion dollars in a “BC Prosperity fund.”

Pamela Martin on Twitter: "What would you do with a trillion dollars from  BC Prosperity Fund? A Once-in-a-generation bonanza announced in BC  #thronespeech."

National Geographic examinedthe cleanest liquefied natural gas in the world” and concluded it was a hypothetical fuel repeatedly promised by political leaders to build public support for the fossil fuel:

There’s no such thing as “clean natural gas.” It’s a fossil fuel, and it releases climate-disrupting greenhouse gases all the way up and down the chain of production, from the wellhead to the burners on your stovetop or in your furnace.

This is especially true for LNG. In order to ship it, energy companies must first chill the gas to -160°C (-256°F) in giant coastal plants that are essentially industrial-size freezers. The process consumes vast quantities of energy. After it’s shipped across the sea, companies then return the LNG to its gaseous state before shipping it off to customers.

Because of these extra steps, LNG carries a whopper of an energy and carbon footprint compared to unadulterated natural gas.

Both natural gas producers and transportation companies conceal the true climate impact of LNG. This week New York Times reported that shipping produces as much carbon dioxide as all of America’s coal plants combined. The newspaper explained why regulation of shipping emissions by the obscure but powerful International Maritime Organization (IMO) is so ineffective:

The I.M.O. is a regulatory body that is run in concert with the industry it regulates. Shipbuilders, oil companies, miners, chemical manufacturers and others with huge financial stakes in commercial shipping are among the delegates appointed by many member nations. They sometimes even speak on behalf of governments…

Next week, the organization is scheduled to enact its first greenhouse gas rules since Paris — regulations that do not cut emissions, have no enforcement mechanism and leave key details shrouded in secrecy…

Although some suggest LNG powered ships could moderate transportation harm, the International Council on Clean Transportation determined there is no climate benefit from tankers burning LNG, regardless of ship engine technology.

The Natural Resources Defense Council states:

Historically, gas has been considered a “bridge fuel”—cleaner and with lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal or oil—and a potential tool to help address climate change.

However, LNG is neither clean nor particularly low in emissions. In addition, the massive investments in new infrastructure to support this industry, including pipelines, liquefaction facilities, export terminals, and tankers, lock in fossil fuel dependence, making the transition to actual low-carbon and no-carbon energy even more difficult.

Our analysis shows that using LNG to replace other, dirtier fossil fuels, is not an effective strategy to reduce climate-warming emissions...

Categories: Climate Change, LNG

4 replies »

  1. Could not agree more.

    And BC natural gas is mainly from fracking, I understand. Many complaints from the Fort St John area on “earthquakes”. Escape of natural gas (which is methane) from the fractured earth which cannot be captured and “shovelled” into that pipeline to the LNG freezer/export terminal, means gas leaks are all over the place. Ecologically clean? Hardly. Merely inexcusable. And the big boys want us all to go to electric vehicles while continuing to ruin the environment for private profit. They treat the public as dumbos and unfortunately, they’re probably correct. Natural gas is so cheap in Asia, BC’s production costs mean their LNG is deeply uncompetitive from Day One of operation. So where will all the royalties come from if you cannot even sell the dirty muck?

    Horgan with his natural gas foofaraw, allowing old growth forest to be “harvested” on the Island, and continuing Site C — is neither green nor a social democrat. Nor are the weaselly Greens who kept him propped up before the last election. It’s all big money running the BC NDP. In fact, the whole damn country. Not a real political leader anywhere, just enablers for business who get to take sovereign citizen-owned resources for essentially free, and profit from them. We never get the straight dope from all the politicians, just the runaround.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The LNG tanker Energy Progress shown above is currently on its way to Taiwan from Australia’s Barrow Island, with a load from the Gorgon natural gas project. Gorgon was being built while Christy and Pamela were making empty promises, and was completed in 2017.

    Whether the output of that or any other LNG plant will ever be shipped mainly by LNG-powered tankers seems to be questionable, although some moves are being made in that direction. Everyone in the industry is not on the same page, as this WSJ article reveals:

    “Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container line in terms of capacity, says it will opt for zero-emission alternatives to fossil fuels rather than choosing LNG as a bridging fuel for its fleet.”

    “In a report this month, the World Bank said LNG ‘is likely to play a limited role’ in decarbonizing the industry and recommended that countries ‘avoid new public policy that supports LNG as a bunker fuel, reconsider existing policy support and continue to regulate methane emissions.’
    The World Bank is a major source of funding for developing nations and its warning could make it difficult for those countries to secure financing for infrastructure to provide LNG for ships.”

    One thing is certain. Alberta’s high-sulphur crude won’t be the first choice of any, even those still using bunker fuel.


  3. That’s an impressive video, Lew. I can see why Chevron would pull out of its BC project, with Gorgon being at least 1000 km closer to the Asian markets than Kitimat is.

    Not sure if mini-quakes in the ocean are less of a problem, compared to land-based drilling. Australia can find out and let us know.

    The video mentions Australia’s domestic market (for non-LNG, I assume) — but compared to Canada, Oz has a lot less need for domestic heating gas. Not such a big deal if they sell off a resource they don’t really need.

    As Norm has shown, because of BC royalty credits, we’re basically giving the gas resource away for free, though we used to profit greatly from the industry. I say keep it the ground, for future domestic needs.


  4. We could put sails on the LNG tanker and sail the LNG to Asia, where it would get burned, releasing CO2. I guess.


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