The volume of four soccer balls compressed to the size of a single golf ball - LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is methane and other forms of natural gas that have been cooled to around minus160ºC. In its liquid state, the gas is reduced to approximately one six-hundredth of its original volume. This makes transportation more efficient, and when shipped by ocean-going LNG carriers, the gas can be transported to faraway places that pipelines can't reach. Japan, which has few natural resources of its own, imports more LNG than any other country.
When the LNG arrives in Japan, it is heated back into a gaseous state. Approximately 70% of it is used for power generation, and the remaining 30% for town gas. LNG has become essential to maintaining quality of life in Japan, where demand for electricity is increasing. Also, because LNG is highly compressed, it produces a great deal of energy during regasification. This is called LNG cold energy, and it is used when making dry ice, flash freezing tuna, and manufacturing frozen food products.
Natural gas produces fewer carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions than oil or coal, and it has come under the spotlight as a very eco-friendly energy source. Buoyed by the Shale Gas Revolution, LNG should remain in stable supply for the foreseeable future, and its use is certain to increase in Japan and around the world.
With the demand for energy escalating in China, India, and other emerging economies, the worldwide demand for LNG is also on the rise. The MC Group is developing LNG production, liquefaction, and shipping operations in Brunei, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Russia, and Oman. Efforts are underway to further expand the group's LNG projects to Canada, the US, and other countries. We can expect to see many new initiatives to ensure that stable supplies of this fuel continue.
Article appeared in Asahi Shimbun's "GLOBE" feature of September 15, 2013