WHAT IS NATURAL GAS?

Natural gas is a colourless and odorless gas that is created from organic matter far under the earth’s surface that decays over millions of years. Natural gas is composed primarily of methane gas (85%-95%) and contains varying amounts of ethane, propane, butane and pentane. Around the world, natural gas is used to heat homes, heat water, cook food and power industrial facilities.

 

HOW DO YOU GET THE NATURAL GAS OUT OF THE GROUND?

Natural gas is extracted from rock two to three kilometers underground using a drilling process called fracking. While fracking has been used in North America since around 1934, its use has expanded greatly in the past decade as technological advances such as horizontal drilling have made fracking more efficient and cost effective. Fracking is a closely regulated and monitored activity in Canada. Later this summer, Steelhead LNG will bring Ha’wiih Council members and citizens to northern BC to get a first-hand look at drilling operations.

 

PIPELINES: ARE THEY SAFE? HOW WOULD YOU GET THE NATURAL GAS TO VANCOUVER ISLAND?

Natural gas pipelines are safe. Natural gas is not a liquid. It travels through pipelines in a gaseous state. Natural gas is lighter than air so if a natural gas pipeline were opened, the gas would disperse into the air. For the proposed project on Vancouver Island, the natural gas would be delivered using a combination of existing pipelines and new pipelines. The exact route has not yet been determined.

 

WHAT IS LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS (LNG)?

Liquefied natural gas, also known as LNG, is natural gas that has been chilled to -162 degrees Celsius at near atmospheric pressure. LNG is colourless, odorless, non-corrosive, non-toxic, non-flammable and non-explosive. By turning the gas into a cold liquid, it takes up 600 times less space, making it easier and safer to store and to ship. That means you can take the amount of natural gas that would fill 600 ships, and by turning it into LNG, you can send it anywhere in just one ship.

 

WHAT HAPPENS AT AN LNG PLANT?

LNG plants are like giant refrigerators. Natural gas that comes to the plant is first purified by removing impurities such as water, carbon dioxide and other materials. From there it gets cooled and liquids such as propane, butane are separated and removed. The final step is the liquefaction process, which chills the natural gas to -162 degrees Celsius turning it into LNG, which is stored at near atmospheric pressure before being loaded onto LNG carriers for shipment overseas.

 

HOW IS LNG TRANSPORTED OVERSEAS?

Natural gas is transported overseas in specially-designed double-hulled LNG carriers that carry the LNG in multiple spherical tanks or in insulated hulls. Over the past 50 years, there has never been a serious accident with an LNG carrier anywhere in the world. If LNG does contact water, it floats on the surface as it warms up and disperses into the air very quickly.

 

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