For the good of global emissions reductions: the Alberta perspective on LNG

LNG shipping Source: Shell

As jurisdictions and energy experts world-wide take their stance on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) — for the good of Canada’s energy industry and global emissions reductions — it’s time I shared mine.

Ideologically-driven narratives – often repeated without prudent analysis or consideration – assert that natural gas should not be used to replace coal as a major baseload energy source.

While renewable power is certainly going to be a major component of the global energy future — the adoption of lower-carbon energy will play out differently across countries depending on their economic development, energy resources, and emission thresholds.

Baseload energy is integral to powering economies when there is no sun and no wind. While Canada is blessed with hydro electricity and nuclear power, for many parts of the world, that baseload energy comes from either coal or natural gas. Natural gas in comparison to coal emits far less carbon emissions and reduces particulate soot in the air by 99.99%. In light of the choice between the two, natural gas will be the choice for many industries and nations that want to responsibly enjoy our modern electric lifestyles.

For regions without plentiful natural gas resources, the introduction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) presents a massive opportunity to lower GHG emissions. That is why many forecasts for global demand of LNG – including those by major consultancies like Wood Mackenzie, IHS Markit, and Rystad – continue to show demand increasing over the next two decades – especially in Asia. So it’s worth evaluating where in the world would be the best place to produce the LNG that will be used around the globe. The answer – from both an economic and environmental perspective – is clearly Canada.

Critics are correct in saying that emissions from LNG don’t only come at the point of use, but also from the processing, transportation, and liquefaction process. In all these areas, Canada enjoys natural advantages that other jurisdictions lack.

Our liquefaction facilities can be powered by hydro electricity, unlike many competing LNG-producing jurisdictions.

Our pipeline operators and natural gas producers are already world leaders in reducing emissions and have considerable incentive to abate to an even greater degree.

Our cool climate is far more energy efficient to chill natural gas to a transport temperature than it is in Qatar or the Gulf of Mexico.

Our shipping distances from BC to Asia are considerably shorter than the Gulf of Mexico, lowering transport emissions and overall cost.

These advantages add up to a real opportunity for Canada to contribute to a net decrease in global greenhouse gases. Canada’s major LNG export hub already under construction, LNG Canada on the west coast, will produce 4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year, but will result in a global reduction of 60-90 million tonnes-per-year by making LNG available to replace coal. Establishing direct links between Canada’s natural gas market and international customers also contributes to a stronger global energy system that is more resilient to the kind of energy shortages that are currently striking Europe and possibly even China.

Carbon emissions know no borders. If Canadian emissions go up slightly in the short- and medium-term, but large, carbon-intensive modernizing economies around the world can lower theirs far more, it will be a major boon to the global effort to reduce carbon emissions. If Canada is serious about playing a leading role in reducing global emissions, LNG is an opportunity that the world cannot afford to miss.

As critics scoff at the idea of exporting LNG, we are left bewildered by the illogical and ideological war against responsibly produced Canadian energy products.

Signed, a passionate proponent of a low-carbon future.

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