The Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) supply chain is generally more energy and greenhouse gas intensive than the supply chain for pipeline gas because of the extra processing steps. If Pennsylvania becomes a major LNG exporter, we will essentially be exporting the primary benefit of using this cleaner burning fossil fuel while bearing all the nasty environmental hazards and downsides of drilling for, processing and transporting it.
I recently learned that Norway, a large provider of Marcellus frack waste water recycling technology, is seeking to import more LNG. They are one of a handful of countries in the world with an LNG Import facility. Were they actively courted by the Corbett administration? Does this mean our governor wants Pennsylvania to become the Saudi Arabia of LNG? Apparently. Via the Chesapeake.
Dominion Resources Inc., headquartered in Richmond, Va., is currently seeking approval for LNG shipments from gas drillers in the Marcellus and lesser-known Utica shales to an export facility in Maryland “because the nation’s natural gas supply is surging while domestic demand is lacking,” says spokesman Daniel Donovan in The News-Register of Wheeling, W.Va. [Source: Associated Press Article in The Wall Street Journal Online]
I’m pretty sure that’s code for: Prices are low in shale states, we’ll get more on the open market. Kind of makes you wonder how Pennsylvania fell so far behind in terms of usage. For all the debate over impact fees vs. taxation, for all the promise of energy independence, there’s very little public discourse on how to optimize shale gas usage in our state. There’s no vision, no plan, for what gas advocates once dubbed a “bridge fuel to the future.” Rather than discuss how to replace inefficient, highly polluting coal-fired electric power plants, or raising statewide energy efficiency standards, or developing light rail systems and pubic transit, our governor simply suggests that gas drillers pay for new roads. It’s basically tantamount to the biggest PA Turnpike fare hike in history. Indeed, the only vision he has shared for natural gas in Pennsylvania is to have a fueling station every 50 miles. Lovely. While his thinking may be considered “big” by some, one could never describe Tom Corbett’s policies as broad-minded.
Shale Gas Liquidation, And Job Creation…
Also according to WSJ.com, Dominion says “many of the new jobs necessary for the project would be in the Marcellus Shale region of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. LNG is natural gas that has been supercooled to -260 degrees to turn it into a liquid and reduce it in volume by 600 times. To export LNG, Dominion would have to add liquefaction facilities to the existing Dominion Cove Point terminal. Construction could potentially begin in 2014 and service could begin by the end of 2016.”
Clearly, LNG is a key component of the drillers’ strategy for profitability. It’s a logical hedge against coltish US demand. The subject of future demand, however, and of developing future markets for PA’s abundance of shale gas – in all its chemical states and forms – requires much greater public discourse before anyone should feel good about the far-reaching decisions our leaders will make on exporting LNG. It’s yet another important facet of a complex legislative issue. Lawmakers ought to proceed with caution.
Natural Gas – methane – is not only a volatile chemical substance, it’s a potentially explosive political topic.