SALES Talk; Search for Alternative Fuel Vice Crude Oil Zeroes in on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

Manila Bulletin, June 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

SALES Talk; Search for Alternative Fuel Vice Crude Oil Zeroes in on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)


Byline: Arthur S. Sales

With the price of crude oil rampaging to unknown heights, endangering the economies of non-oil producing countries, liquefied natural gas (LNG) looms as the less expensive alternative to the global search for dependable and renewable sources of energy.

Asian countries produce more than 50 percent of the worlds liquefied natural gas reserves, about three-quarters of which are utilized as fuel in power plants, factories and even households in most parts of Asia.

Malaysia, which has the biggest gas reserves, is in a position to supply Japan with its needs for up to 30 years. Gas deposits in Indonesia could supply a big market like the United States for about three years.

Royal Dutch Shell and other rival Western oil companies continue to find, develop and ship gas to markets halfway around the world. Liquefied natural gas is considered one of the renewable energy sources for the future and Shell is reputedly the worlds leading private supplier. Shell claims LNG is leading the way for a cleaner energy future.

Shell expects natural gas to overtake oil as the main energy source in 20 years and predicts that Asia would lead the way. Global analysts foresee that LNG should overtake oil by the year 2025.

Liquefied natural gas that is cooled to about minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 100 degrees Centigrade (Celsius), compressing its volume by more than 500 times into liquid form so that it can be shipped to markets that are not connected to pipelines. After arrival at their destinations, the liquid form is returned to its gaseous state by reheating. This process, which has been going on for about three decades, is considered much less expensive than the current price of crude oil.

Natural gas discoveries in Asia, including new fields in the Philippines, have in the past before the current crude oil price scars, been constantly expanding. Their natural gas industries have already consigned the region as the newest center of the global liquefied natural gas business.

The Philippine Department of Energy had already signed a memorandum of agreement with Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Malampaya consortium led by Shell Philippines Exploration (Spex) to support the governments compressed natural gas program.

Under the previous deal, Spex will finance the design, construction and operation of compressed natural gas "mother station in Batangas while Shell will put up the "daughter station. The "mother station will serve the needs of the "daughter station which, in turn, will supply the requirements of the CNG-fed public utility buses. …

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