On this day in three weeks time, the entire Day 2 of the gasworld Clean Energies Conference will be devoted to Distributive LNG.

Will you be there? Can you afford not to be?

The bigger question underpinning both of these, is perhaps whether ‘distributive LNG’ is truly understood and where the opportunities are.

The natural gas supply chain continues to grow in prominence as part of the more diversified energy mix of today and tomorrow. The growing LNG business is a huge, essential part of this. And as I understand it, as much as 90% of the LNG business is dominated by plants and terminals and piped supply. Distributive LNG, that is the over-the-road distribution of LNG by tanks, tankers and ISO containers, may account for as little as 5% or less of the market.

But for the industrial gas and equipment industry, this is most relevant aspect of the LNG supply chain. The transportation of the gas in its liquid form through a range of modes, from shipboards to semi-trailers and trains to intermodal containers, relies upon an extensive range of cryogenic equipment to make it happen.

From cryogenic pumps and valves, to cryogenic tanks and storage vessels, to refuelling stations and dispensers, the equipment that’s fundamental to this business is either the same or very similar to that used in the gases industry. Much of it is derived from those existing product portfolios; certainly it is dependent upon that unparalleled knowledge and expertise.

The synergies between the gases industry and the distributive LNG business are compelling.

Once delivered by shipboard, truck or train to a given destination, LNG can be vaporized by a simple heat exchange with ambient air, or pressurised with a pump and used to fuel vehicles with compressed natural gas (CNG), or deployed in peak-shaving applications.

So the business case for the industry is clear. What about the opportunities?

Whilst distributive LNG is a very niche aspect of the LNG business, and will likely remain so, surely it will not necessarily always be the case that it accounts for such a small percentage of the global market.

The use of LNG and the aforementioned transport modes improves natural gas distribution, especially in some countries or locations where there is a poor pipeline grid and unfavourable – or non-existent – infrastructure to deliver the gas. Further still, the continuous transportation cost reduction research carried out by various stakeholders in the LNG sector, as well as the fact that LNG is about 1/600th the volume of natural gas at standard temperature and pressure (STP), renders the distribution of LNG more cost-effective over larger distances (over 3,000km) than transporting the gas by pipeline.

As LNG grows in prominence around the world as an alternative fuel, and in vehicle applications itself, it stands to reason that more of this product will need to be transported over-the-road to otherwise ‘stranded’ locations or those where a more cost-effective option is required. Equally, if the demand is as projected, then a diversified supply chain will surely be required to join the dots and establish a comprehensive network of supply.

And that network is already building…

In Europe, for example, the build-out of LNG hubs and stations is steadily ongoing – we only have to look at some of the headlines at gasworld over the past 12 months to see that.

In May 2017, Chart shipped the final two cryogenic tankers that will complete the first phase of an LNG hub being built in Klaipėda port, Lithuania. The company had already delivered three of the Decinske Giants cryogenic vessels to the site in February. The LNG distribution station itself will create a small-scale LNG infrastructure, establishing the port of Klaipėda as a hub for the Baltic countries and north-eastern Poland.

Chart completes LNG hub in Lithuania

Chart Ferox has also opened a Shell LNG truck refuelling station in the Netherlands (October 2017) in Waddinxveen, close to Rotterdam, which in the immediate aftermath of its commissioning had averaged 10 vehicles per day dispensing approximately 1,500kg of LNG.

Shell opens LNG station in Rotterdam

Likewise, Cryostar revealed in March 2017 that it was launching a new LNG/LCNG fuelling station in Auxerre, France for transport and logistics service provider Carrier Picq & Charbonnier, including two LNG dispensers, two LCNG dispensers, a system for converting cold liquefied natural gas, a double centrifugal pump skid, a high-pressure modular pump and an LCNG buffer. In addition, a service and maintenance contract was established to enable the customer to better control its operating costs.

And as recently as last month (March 2018), PitPoint – another of our confirmed speakers in Amsterdam – began construction of its new Roosendaal LNG filling station in the Netherlands, the final station of three under a contract with DCB Energy signed in July 2017. The first two stations became operational at the beginning of the year. PitPoint is also currently working on the development and exploitation of LNG locations in Belgium and Germany.

Network of LNG stations in the Netherlands growing steadily

These are just a few examples of the latent opportunities in the distributive LNG business in Europe. This also is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of market opportunities – I’ve not even talked here about heat exchangers, analysers or other related equipment.

In the last few weeks we have seen UK-based EffecTech awarded ISO 17025 accreditation from UKAS for the calibration of LNG analysers, for example, while quality assurance and risk management company DNV GL has opened an LNG test centre in the Netherlands to enable safer and more efficient use of LNG. A stable and known composition of LNG is important for accurately assessing energy content and engine performance control; DNV GL said the testing of new sensor technology to rapidly identify the composition of LNG would be a priority.

DNV GL opens LNG test centre

So with the synergies and business case understood, momentum that is clear to see, and very evident opportunities ahead, it comes back to that question – can you afford not to be in this space?

How much LNG growth awaits in the years ahead, in Europe and beyond, is something of an unknown quantity – but it is clear that the potential is huge and there are equally huge opportunities in cryogenic pumps, valves and tanks, heat exchangers, analysers, LNG dispensers and stations, and a myriad of other services and solutions.

gasworld will be in Amsterdam later this month to put the spotlight on these exact opportunities in Europe, and I look forward to learning more about this myself.

See you there.

gasworld Europe Conference 2018: Distributive LNG in focus

gasworld has shaken up the format for its Europe conference in April with a theme and agenda devoted to the clean energy transition and two key pillars in particular – the fast-developing hydrogen economy and distributive LNG.

Day 2 of the event will be devoted to Distributive LNG, with Chart, Cryostar, DNV GL and Broadview Investment among those lined up to speak about this business. DNV GL is in fact a keynote speaker at the conference.

For more information about the conference, to be held at the Beurs van Berlage Conference Centre in Amsterdam from 23rd to 25th April, visit https://www.gasworldconferences.com/conference/europe-2018/.

To book your place or learn more about participation opportunities, contact Abbey Stones at +44 1872 225031 or abbey.stones@gasworld.com