Liquid Natural Power
Just how safe is a village that sits between a gas storage facility and a shipwreck full of explosives?
At the time of publication, it is 264 days since Russia invaded Ukraine. For a brief moment, that conflict reached our coast due to Russia’s export of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). This month, we are taking the theme literally as we ask, what is LNG? What is the Isle of Grain? What happened when Russia delivered LNG to Medway? Why did we cover this topic from a different angle in 2015? And what did we find out when we updated our research that we wish hadn’t?
But first, a declaration of interest:
In the Isle of Grain, born and raised,
on the playground is where I spent most of my days.
Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool,
reading some c-books outside of school.
When the economy was up to no good,
started makin’ trouble in my neighbourhood.
I got in no real fights, but my mom got scared
and said, “we are moving to Rochester.”
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is a natural gas, primarily methane, chilled to -260 degrees. Natural gas is a fuel and a combustible substance. In its liquid state, LNG is not explosive and cannot ignite. For LNG to burn it must first vaporise, and mix with air in proper proportions. LNG tankers have sailed over 100 million miles without a shipboard death or major accident.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), methane is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect, second only to carbon dioxide.
“One of the rallying cries in favour of liquefying and exporting U.S natural gas has been to help reduce greenhouse gases in other countries, by crowding out coal in Asia and Europe.
The process of liquefaction, transport and regasification of LNG is highly emissions intensive”
The Washington Post
Grain village is on the Isle of Grain, on the edge of the Thames estuary. It is part of the Rochester and Strood constituency and the home of next month’s Peninsula ward by-election. Out on Grain is an LNG plant, owned and operated by Grain LNG, a subsidiary of National Grid, which was expanded upon with giant gas storage tanks, moving it closer to the village.
A tweet there from Kwasi Kwarteng MP, who between researching this piece and publishing this piece, became, and then unbecame, Chancellor.
The Grain LNG import terminal is Europe’s biggest LNG import terminal with an LNG regasification capacity of 15 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) and a storage capacity of one million cubic metres (mcm). This means the facility meets up to one-fifth of the UK’s gas demand.
The facility was originally built by British Gas with four storage tanks in 1981. National Grid Grain LNG was established to develop and expand the facility in 2002. The Grain LNG import terminal was expanded in three phases that were commissioned in 2005, 2008, and 2010 respectively. In phase four expansion, which is currently under consideration, the terminal’s storage capacity is expected to be increased to 1.2mcm by 2025. The river Medway and the associated sea approach are deep enough for the largest LNG ships, and it is close to the main centre of demand in the UK.
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