August 8, 2022

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Liquefied Natural Gas Comes to Europe’s Rescue. But for How Long?

2 min read

This article is part of a special report on Climate Solutions, which looks at efforts around the world to make a difference.


ISLE OF GRAIN, England — The placid waters near the entrance to the River Medway look more suited for sailboats and other pleasure craft, but some of the biggest ships in the world twist their way to a pier here.

Simon Culkin, the importation terminal manager at the facility called Grain LNG, jokes about making sure that none of these vessels are helmed by a “learner driver.”

The behemoths, some of them more than 1,000 feet long, bring cargoes of liquefied natural gas. Once the ships lock onto a rack of pipes on the jetty, their frigid fuel flows into massive concrete-clad storage tanks 160 feet tall.

When full, these hulking cylinders pack an almost unimaginable punch of energy — enough, Mr. Culkin estimates, to power southern England for 10 days. Upriver is London, an economic powerhouse and huge energy consumer.

In recent months, energy markets in Europe have experienced the greatest disruption in memory, as well as record prices, as tensions built with Russia over Ukraine. But L.N.G., largely from the United States, has cushioned the blow in Britain and been a lifeline for Europe.

Yet even as the imports have advanced the European Union’s goal of slashing its dependence on Russian energy, the growing reliance on the fuel also comes with potentially negative implications, including uncertainty for its future and concerns about its impact on climate.

“Countries will need to source some gas if they are not getting supplies from Russia,” said Doug Parr, chief scientist and policy director at Greenpeace UK. “The climate risk is that there is a lock into new gas infrastructure which proves quite hard to retire,” he added.

European imports of L.N.G. rose by more than 50 percent compared with the period a year earlier in the first five months of 2022, according to Bernstein, a Wall Street research firm. Britain saw a surge of L.N.G…

Stanley Reed

2022-06-29 09:59:39

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