Pakistan is rich in natural gas but deficient in fossil oil. At present bulk of the gas demand is met through local production, which offers enormous saving of foreign exchange as well as cleaner environment. The added benefit is that Pakistan could buy gas from its next door neighbor Iran as well as a not too far located friendly country Qatar. While analysts have the consensus on boosting indigenous gas production, they consider import of LNG as the second best option.
Around the world, experts have the consensus on a point that natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel. Its consumption is growing at a faster pace to contain carbon dioxide emissions. As compared to coal, natural gas produces far lesser carbon dioxide and sulfur emissions. LNG is simply natural gas in a liquid state and produces relatively low emissions when burned to heat and cool homes, generate electricity, and power vehicles. It is odorless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. When exposed to the environment, LNG rapidly evaporates, leaving no residue on water or soil. If spilled, LNG would not result in a slick because 100 percent of it evaporates, leaving no residue behind.
Supplying clean-burning natural gas to the international marketplace helps countries around the globe meet clean air quality standards, which contributes to worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as more and more coal-fired electricity is being replaced with natural gas. This is particularly beneficial in countries where access to clean energy is otherwise limited.
An independent study conducted in2009 found that the US coal-fired power plants produce more than double the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions as compared to power generation fueled by re-gasified LNG. The study looked at GHG (green house gas) emissions from natural gas production, liquefaction, shipping, re-gasification, pipeline transportation and use at a power plant and compared to GHG emissions from coal mining, transportation and use at a power plant. According to another study conducted in 2012, bulk LNG yields fuel savings of 40-50% compared to oil. LNG also has a lower carbon footprint on a smokestack basis, with roughly half as much CO2 emissions as coal and 25% that of oil.
It has also been observed that while oil prices remain high, natural gas prices have fallen due to the shale gas revolution, reaching an all-time low and dipping below US$3/mmbtu or US$17.4 per barrel of oil equivalent in April 2012. Since then natural gas prices have roughly stabilized between US$3-5/mmbtu.
In 2012, according to INSEE (French national institute of statistics and economic studies), road transport accounted for 85% of the transportation of goods over land in France, making this sector the second biggest energy consumer behind the tertiary residential sector, responsible for almost a third of the country’s CO2 emissions. The development of natural gas fuel – either in compressed form (CNG) for urban transport or short distances, or in liquid form for regional and long-distance transport (LNG) – is seen as a promising alternative to achieve the new environmental targets. Natural gas makes it possible to comply with the new environmental standards. Compared with diesel, natural gas fuel represents the following reductions: 1) a 25% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2), 2) an 80% reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 3) a 97% reduction in carbon monoxide (CO) emissions. In terms of inconvenience caused to local residents, trucks fuelled by LNG are half as noisy as the equivalent diesel-fuelled trucks; consequently, urban areas where truck traffic is prohibited due to noise pollution can be accessed at certain times of the day. Reportedly, over 20 years now, 40% of cities with a population of over 200,000 have operated vehicle fleets running on CNG: buses, refuse collection trucks, municipal light vehicles.
Since 2008, CNG has been extended to road freight. France recognizes the benefits of natural gas fuel and encourages its use and development in order to promote a transport energy mix. One of the substantial advantages of LNG is that while fuel represents the biggest proportion of the overall cost of operating a truck, LNG costs less than diesel, leading to palpable savings on a truck fleet scale.
With sulphur emissions that are 10,000 times higher than diesel, the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) as maritime fuel has a significant impact on the environment; in reality it accounts for almost 14% of global sulphur emissions into the atmosphere. The growing impact of this human activity on the environment is pushing the global regulators to implement stricter regulations, lowering the maritime fuel sulphur limits in waters around the world. Europe has already imposed a maximum sulphur emission limit for ships. This ambitious directive positions LNG as a solution for the future for maritime fleets. In addition to a lower environmental impact, LNG is the primary energy offering the best thermodynamic yields and hence the best energy efficiency. In particular, the cost of LNG is considerably more competitive than that of other low-sulphur fuels, such as MGO (Marine Gas Oil). The potential uses of LNG are not limited to use as a file of maritime or road transport. It can also be used to supply industrials sites or communities not linked to the natural gas transmission grid.
The desire of communities and private individuals to control their budgets is shared by industrial players, seeking an economically stable and accessible source of energy. LNG is an alternative to fuel oil, LPG and coal, enabling industrial players to make savings in terms of both energy supply costs and equipment maintenance costs. In addition to its competitive cost, LNG is an excellent solution to help industrial players bring their facilities into line with current environmental regulations, with these regulations set to become even stricter in the future. Conversion of these industries to LNG would lead to lower CO2 emissions, and of virtually no nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and fine particles.