What is LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas)
Once extracted, natural gas can be liquefied through a specific cooling process (that brings gas at -160 ° C). The operation engenders a remarkable reduction in volume. In liquid state, Liquefied natural gas (LNG) can be easily stored and transported by sea, thanks to special vessels. In this way the LNG can travel for thousands kilometers and reach the Italian regasification facilities. Once arrived, liquefied natural gas is discharged at a storage facility that takes it back to the gaseous form and makes it available for traditional consumption. The import of LNG through sea allows further diversification of sources of supply, with positive outcomes on national energy security.
GNL also has several alternative uses, thus it could replace traditional fossil fuels in several contexts and significantly reduce pollutant emissions for both maritime and heavy road transport.
LNG is an economical and efficient solution, that significantly reduces emissions of sea transport compared to other fossil fuels. In addition, LNG is subject to treatments that allow total elimination of particulate matter and SOx and almost total removal of NOx, thus making LNG a product with high standards of environmental compatibility .
The benefits are related to infrastructure upgrading, with particular attention to adaptation of the regasification terminals and construction of deposits on the coast.
LNG is part of a wider European Union energy and environmental policy that aims at the gradual transition to a low-carbon economy through the substantial reduction of pollutant emissions, the use of clean fuels and the use of renewable sources. In particular, in January 2013, the EU Commission has developed the Clean Power for Transport Package that has prepared a proposal for a Directive on the development of alternative fuel distribution infrastructure such as, for example, LNG. In addition, in 2016, the DAFI directive on alternative fuels was also transposed in Italy in order to establish a national strategic framework for the development of the CNG , of biofuel, of the LNG and the electricity in the transportation sector. Plan also included directives for the infrastructures and binding targets.
Liquified natural gas and the LNG "supply chain"
In order to be transported on LNG carriers, gas is liquefied. The liquefaction temperature of natural gas is approximately -160° C at atmospheric pressure.
LNG is essentially a colorless and odorless fluid with a density equal to approximately half that of water.
The LNG is transported by sea by high technology tankers featuring safety systems and environmental protection quality standards which are among the highest in the world.
Once arrived at its destination, the LNG is unloaded at the import terminal where it is heated and brought to a gaseous state and injected into the pipeline network, once at an appropriate pressure level.