The First National Conference on Liquefied Natural Gas for Transport – Italy and the Mediterranean Sea was been held in Rome on 11 April, 2013 and addressed to experienced delegates in energy and LNG issues, becoming a relevant annual meeting for international, national and local institutions, regulators, companies, research centers, energy experts, researchers, technology developers and end-users.
Recently, the European Commission Clean Power for Transport Package has put the deployment of an alternative fuel strategy, clean fuel infrastructures and standards, and liquefied natural gas uses for shipping at the core of the EU Clean Fuel Strategy. This important endorsement by the European Commission together with the rising cost of cleaner refined products, global development of energy markets and technological innovation, have led naval and land transport operators to improve their attention to the direct use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the engine design. Natural gas compression and liquefaction technologies, ship transportation with cryogenic tanks and LNG regasification technologies have been used for over 50 years and today they allow for the direct use of liquefied natural gas, in addition to its traditional use for the injection into distribution networks.
The growth of natural gas transport via LNG carriers, parallel to the one via pipelines, is gradually changing the natural gas market-still split between macro regions-in a globalized market, with a similar path followed by oil in the past.
The globalization of natural gas market has also been sped up by the discovery of new huge reservoirs of natural gas around the world and new extraction technologies able to produce gas from shale formations.
At the present time, 31 liquefaction plants are in operation around the world, 12 plants are under construction and 14 are projected. In the United States, where the price of gas is the lowest in the world, 15 proposals of liquefaction plants are in consultation. Australia is overcoming Qatar-the first in the world-as liquefied natural gas producer, while new countries are entering the global LNG market, such as Angola, Papua New Guinea and Mozambique where large reservoirs have been recently found.
Moreover, the exploitation of shales is opening up new perspectives in China as well.
Even if Europe produces little more than half of its natural gas consumption, it can benefit from the LNG use in sea and land transportation more than other continents. In fact, the use of liquefied natural gas can reduce the air pollution caused by human settlements and population density benefiting the protection of the fragile environment of the Mediterranean Sea.
The LNG also addresses risks of marine pollution from accidental oil product spills; any accident in the transportation of LNG results in the evaporation of the liquefied gas. In addition, the logistics and management of cryogenic liquids, such as oxygen and hydrogen, are already available.
The use of LNG ferries is already a reality in the Baltic Sea and many initiatives are going to exit the experimental phase for liquefied natural gas use in inland transport. In both sectors, Italy is at the forefront in terms of entrepreneurial skills and technologies in the Mediterranean perspective.