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Natural Gas – Virtual Pipeline Supply

Substitutes for Shortages – Synthetic Natural Gas or LNG

With the looming potential for natural gas shortages and price escalations, large natural gas users need to examine their alternatives.

Many commercial users have more option than they realise…


Solutions for Natural Gas Shortages & Rising Prices

There are a number of strategies that might be used to combat natural gas shortages and price escalations…

Peak Shaving

To help meet peak demand, when natural gas supplies are inadequate, use a ‘virtual pipeline’.

This is the augmentation of natural gas pipeline supplies with liquefied natural gas or simulated natural gas.

Peak shaving systems are activated, as needed, to cope with times of peak demand and avoid any possible overrun penalty fees.

Base Load Gas

Virtual pipeline options can provide gas to users in isolated areas where natural gas is currently not available due to a lack of infrastructure or natural gas resources.

Bridging Fuel

Providing options to operate while in preparation for the start-up of a natural gas supply.

Either liquefied natural gas or simulated natural gas can be used as a ‘bridge fuel’ in anticipation of natural gas availability.

Stand-By Natural Gas

Providing alternatives as a stand-by in the event of a natural gas supply disruption.

Allowing customers to maintain gas related operations in the event of a natural gas limitation or temporary stoppage of supply.

Interruptible Gas Service

In some areas, a user may be able to get substantial discounts for accepting interruptible service.

Virtual pipeline solutions allow for this option and the resultant savings without actually suffering the interruptions.

Virtual Pipeline for Natural Gas

There are two very practical virtual pipeline solutions – liquefied natural gas and simulated natural gas.

Both can provide natural gas equivalents in situations where there are natural gas shortages or even when there are no natural gas pipelines in place.


Liquefied Natural Gas – LNG

The first virtual pipeline solution is LNG.

Most people hear LNG mentioned and think of exports on large ships.

However, LNG can also be deliver, within Australia, using special cryogenic road tankers.

As a liquid, the volume of the LNG reduces to 1/600 its gaseous volume.

This makes transport, in the cryogenic tankers, economically viable.

LNG – liquefied natural gas – is methane (CH4) that is liquefied by chilling below -161°C.

The LNG is typically stored in vertical tanks, as shown.

When required for use, LNG is warmed back to natural gas in a process known as regasification.

This regasification is achieved using a method involving heat exchangers – the two large grey units in accompanying picture.

After regasification, it reverts to and is used as natural gas.

This the same natural gas that is piped to homes and businesses around the country.


Simulated Natural Gas

The second virtual pipeline solution is simulated natural gas.

Simulated natural gas has a number of names.

In addition to SNG, it is also called propane-air and LPG-air.

In some coutries it is also called Synthetic Natural Gas or Substitute Natural Gas, although this is not techniclly correct for Australia.

Simulated Natural Gas – SNG – is produced by mixing vaporised LPG with compressed air.

The accompanying picture shows a large SNG facility.

The LPG is delivered via normal LPG road tankers and stored in conventional LPG tanks.

To start the process, the LPG (propane) is vaporised from liquid LPG.

Depending on the size of the storage vessels and the rate of consumption, this may require the use of a vaporiser.

The vaporised LPG is then fed into an SNG processor, mixing the LPG with compressed air.

The typical blend is 53% vaporised LPG (propane) and 47% air.

From there, the gas proceeds directly to the users’ applications.

SNG can be used in place of natural gas, as it has virtually identical combustion characteristics.

It can be used alone or mixed with regular natural gas.

No changes are required in burners, regulators or gas jets.


Need more information on LNG or SNG gas supply?
Business Customers please call 131 161