LNG Blue Corridors the Right Solution for Europe

| Europe | Source: NGVA Europe

The recent revision of the European Commission’s Trans-European Energy Network (TEN-E) policy highlights the importance of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals to cover Europe’s future increasing demand for natural gas. NGVA Europe’s says this estimation coincides with it’s own focus to promote a European NG/biomethane supply chain for long distance road transport via LNG Blue Corridors, what it calls the “right solution” for a more economical road transport. The Commission report identifies various projects of re-gasification terminals across the EU, some are already under implementation, others are planned.

The report says that the energy networks currently in place are dated and are not designed to cope with the energy challenges faced today. The analysis finds that additional capacity will be required to meet demand.  It assessed that planned pipelines will be sufficient to provide this capacity for demands in 2020, but that beyond 2020 new LNG terminals and developments in storage and reverse flow infrastructure will also be required.

Potential LNG Terminal Locations

The report says recent studies indicate that the most promising locations for new LNG terminals are:

  • Italy: Porto Empedocle, Tarento, Trieste, Livorno, Monfalcone, Priolo, Gioia Tauro, San Ferdinando
  • Netherlands: Lion Gas, Gate LNG
  • France: Le Verdon, Dunkirk
  • Ireland: Shannon
  • Germany: Wilhemshaven
  • Poland: Swioujscie
  • Spain: El Murel
  • Croatia: Krk
  • Cyprus: Vassiliko

Other projects have been or are envisaged such as:

  • Greece: Crete
  • Croatia: Ploce

The report also considers the transportation from western EU countries to central EU countries of natural gas mainly imported from LNG terminals:

  • Entry points: Spain (North): e.g. Oviedo, Gijon, Bilbao and Barcelona
  • Exit point: South Germany (Ulm)

It notes this could potentially lead to Spanish LNG facilities being used as an alternative source of natural gas for central Europe.

The LNG Blue Corridor principle

NGVA Europe explains that while natural gas is utilised by heavy duty vehicles for municipal use (urban buses, garbage collection trucks) in many parts of Europe, this type of operation is generally based on a return-to-depot principle for refueling. Practically all these vehicles run on CNG (compressed NG/biomethane). However, five times more volume of fuel over diesel prevents the use of CNG in heavy road transport, because its volume and weight would be too big for a long distance truck.

This opens the way for LNG. Whereas 1 litre of diesel is equivalent to 5 litre of CNG, compressed to 200 bar., it takes only 1,8 litres of LNG to provide the same energy.

A 40 tonne road tractor in Europe needs a tank of 400 to 500 litres for a 1.000 km trip; its equivalent volume with liquid gas would be 700 to 900 litres of LNG, a tank dimension that could be easily fitted to the lateral of the truck chassis. LNG is therefore opening the use of natural gas to medium and long distance road transport, with new trucks able to travel up to 1100 kms between fueling stations.

A European map of LNG terminals shows that the South European coasts have a number of LNG terminals already in operation. The transport of LNG by road tankers is also well developed, enabling to reach and supply any point of Europe with LNG.

NGVA Europe envisages an LNG Blue Corridor — a road offering several LNG refuelling possibilities for heavy vehicles, giving them full guarantee of fuel availability —  along the Mediterranean coast, which is also the starting point of a high density flow of trucks carrying fruits and vegetables from Spain to central Europe. The installation of a few LNG or L-CNG filling stations, also able to supply CNG when re-gasifying the LNG to passenger cars, in some strategic points of central Europe would permit a much more economic and clean way for long-distance freight transport along the main European transit routes.

The practical implementation of the recommendations of the TEN-E policy revision by the European Union will encourage and facilitate the growth of LNG Blue Corridors, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.

More information on the Commission Energy Infrastructure plans is available here. (Update: documents withdrawn)

Editor Note: The California Energy Commission (CEC) has two maps of existing, proposed, under construction and approved LNG terminals in Western Europe, updated June 2010.

This item compiled using information from an NGVA Europe press release and from the TEN-E revision Final report (21 October 2010).

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