Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is on the verge of making a breakthrough in the global energy markets over the next day, so more American companies than ever are undertaking expansion efforts. Image Credit: Flickr user Jnzl

When it comes to the energy market in the United States, natural gas is one of the most important fuel sources for electricity generation and for export to other countries. The recent increase in growth is particularly true for liquefied natural gas (LNG). In 2016, the United States produced the least amount of LNG of all seventeen exporting countries, accounting for only 0.1 percent of the market, but demand is on the rise, and Moody’s Investors Service predicts that the United States could become the world’s third-largest exporter by 2020.1 And while gas companies have been wary of investing in the past, given the relatively high production cost of LNG,2 experts believe that the growing demand will justify investment.

According to the February 2017 LNG Outlook from Royal Dutch Shell’s PLC, global demand for LNG is expected to increase at a rate of 4-5% per year from 2015 to 2030, which is more than twice as fast as the projected growth rate for natural gas overall, which is only 2% per year. 3

Currently, most of the output of LNG in the United States comes from the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana and the Cheniere terminal in Texas, but new projects and expansion efforts are already underway at other Gulf Coast locations, as well as in Maryland and Hawaii.4  As oil and gas companies continue to capitalize on the growing demand for liquefied natural gas, electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) can help with the data collection and information sharing that can support efficient and informed business decision-making in this area of the natural gas market.

Considering LNG Infrastructure Construction and Expansion

Because of the current level of market supply and high cost of production, Shell reports that there has recently been a decrease in final investments in new supply—and that will need to change if the United States is going to be able to meet the exploding demand over the coming decades. There are a wide range of scientific and economic factors to consider when looking for ways to maximize LNG infrastructure investments. ELNs can help companies conduct the tests they need to identify the ideal sites for new construction and infrastructure expansion:

  • Evaluating Production Capacity

 

For LNG expansion to be a reasonable investment, the production capacity of a new site will need to outweigh the necessary infrastructure investments and production costs. As oil and gas research run critical tests at different sites, ELNs can help organize and analyze the significant amount of data that will invariably be generated. It can also make it easier to compare results at different sites. In addition, ELNs facilitate information sharing with economic analysts, who can use the data to make projections about which sites are the most feasible for LNG expansion.

  • Considering Export Options

 

One of the reasons that LNG is growing so popular is that it is much easier to transport and ship than unprocessed natural gas. Over the next decade or so, most of the demand is expected to come from India and China; indeed, China plans to make natural gas 15% of its overall energy mix by 2030, compared to only 5% in 2015, which equates to an addition of 100 million tons of LNG demand. At the same time, there is a growing number of LNG importers, including six new countries in various regions since 2015: Colombia, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Poland.5 When considering the development of new sites in particular locations, gas companies will need to evaluate the feasibility of transporting LNG to each of these countries from prospective expansion sites, in order to make the most of economic opportunities that each one presents. With ELNs, researchers at different sites can share their data with each other for comparison, and they can also integrate relevant data about shipping costs and weather patterns6 that can assist with decision-making.

  • Assessing Regional Usage Possibilities

 

Another reason why LNG has such a large potential for growth is the flexibility of shipping. Unlike unprocessed natural gas, it can be transported to areas that pipelines cannot reach. That means that it can be used for electricity generation in regions of the United States where there are currently natural gas shortages due to inaccessibility.7 Again, ELNs will be invaluable as researchers and analysts simultaneously assess data related to production capacity, transportation costs and regional demands in certain areas of the country.

As liquid natural gas appears poised for a market takeover, construction and expansion efforts today will ensure that gas companies will be able to meet high demand levels in coming decades. Modern electronic lab notebook technology can provide the crucial data integration and information-sharing capacities that researchers will need as they collaborate with economic analysts and business decision-makers to determine how a company can capitalize on growth in the market.

BIOVIA Electronic Lab Notebooks facilitate efficient oil and gas research by making it easy to manage and analyze complex data, and they also guarantee that it is readily accessible to all interested parties when they need it, which can eliminate bottlenecks in research and business decision-making. Contact us today to learn more about this innovative technology and our other software offerings.

  1. “Why natural gas is the future – not coal,” March 15, 2017, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/natural-gas-coal-future/
  2. “Liquefied Natural Gas,” 2017, https://energy.gov/fe/science-innovation/oil-gas/liquefied-natural-gas
  3. “Shell: Global LNG demand to rise 4-5%/year to 2030,” February 20, 2017, http://www.ogj.com/articles/2017/02/shell-global-lng-demand-to-rise-4-5-year-to-2030.html
  4. “Hawaii Gas to build infrastructure for LNG expansion project,” March 16, 2017, http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/news/2017/03/16/hawaii-gas-to-build-infrastructure-for-lng.html
  5. “Shell Launches First LNG Outlook,” 2017, http://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/natural-gas/liquefied-natural-gas-lng/lng-outlook.html
  6. “U.S. LNG: A Growing Slice of a Growing Pie,” March 9, 2017, http://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/109696-us-lng-a-growing-slice-of-a-growing-pie
  7. “Shell defies doubters by predicting boom for liquefied natural gas,” February 20, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/02/20/defies-doubters-predicting-boom-liquefied-natural-gas/