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Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Program

picture of LNG storage tank and evaporators
Typical LNG storage tank with evaporators.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is the liquid form of natural gas, the same substance used in many homes for heating and cooking. It consists mostly of methane along with small amounts of similar chemicals (e.g., propane, butane, ethane). It is created by cooling natural gas to very low temperatures (approximately -260°F) until it condenses into a liquid in the same way that water vapor condenses into liquid water when it contacts a cold surface. By converting the gas into a liquid, it takes up 600 times less space making it an efficient way to store large amounts. To remain a liquid, LNG must be stored in insulated containers/tanks that function like a thermos bottle. LNG is colorless, odorless, and non-toxic. Although similar, LNG is not the same as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) which consists mostly of propane and is not cryogenic (very cold) like LNG. When LNG is "warmed" to temperatures above about -260°F, it is converted back into a gas.

While natural gas is flammable, LNG itself is not. When the liquid is converted back into a gas, it can burn if the concentration of the gas in air is within a specific range (i.e., flammability limits of between 5% and 15%) and there is a source of ignition. Unless confined in a structure or container, natural gas will burn rapidly (e.g., a gas stove) but not explode. When converted from a liquid to a gas, it is initially heavier than air and then rapidly becomes lighter than air when the gas warms up to normal temperatures.

Globally, most LNG is produced by countries which have reserves of natural gas and market it to countries without their own sources. It is shipped as a liquid in large ocean-going vessels. In the United States, most LNG is created and stored by utilities for use during peak demand periods when they convert it back to a gas and either burn it as a fuel to produce electricity or inject it back into gas supply pipelines for residential, commercial, or industrial use. In recent years, there has been growing demand for LNG facilities that can supply LNG as an alternative fuel for heavy duty trucks or fleet vehicles that use LNG instead of diesel fuel.

LNG Facility Permits

In New York State, constructing an "LNG facility," storing LNG, or converting it back to a gas requires a permit issued by DEC. This permit is required by law (Environmental Conservation Law Article 23 Title 17) and by regulation (6 NYCRR Part 570). An LNG facility is defined (§570.1(c)(9)) as, "any structure or facility located on one or more contiguous or adjacent properties under common control that is used to store LNG in a tank system, or other storage device or to convert LNG into natural gas." Storage of natural gas, whether compressed or not, does not require a Part 570 permit. Several exemptions from having to obtain a Part 570 LNG facility permit exist (see §§570.1(b) and (d)) including:

  • on-board fuel tanks for LNG-fueled vehicles or vessels;
  • LNG delivery tank trucks connected to a natural gas pipeline for temporary gas pipeline pressure regulation;
  • LNG transportation activities (see §570.1(c)(10), but note that intrastate transportation of LNG is prohibited unless the route is certified by the NYS Department of Transportation (see §570.4));
  • pre-existing LNG facilities (i.e., utilities that have been storing LNG prior to the promulgation of Part 570) under certain conditions; and
  • temporary storage or conversion of LNG during an emergency as determined by DEC.

Owners of a proposed LNG facility must submit a permit application that meets the requirements of §570.2 prior to constructing or operating a facility. The procedures for obtaining a Part 570 LNG facility permit explain what is required in a permit application, the steps to follow, and how to obtain additional information.

Criteria for Siting an LNG Facility

Before issuing an LNG facility permit, DEC must determine if the proposed facility, including the tank systems, equipment, location, operating procedures, and transportation procedures meet the requirements of Part 570. The main elements that DEC will evaluate include:

  • ensuring that the permit application is complete and provides all of the information necessary to determine whether the proposed facility would be in full compliance with Part 570;
  • verifying that the design and operation of the LNG facility would be in compliance with the applicable requirements of National Fire Protection Association standards NFPA 59A ("Standards for the Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)") and NFPA 52 ("Vehicular Gaseous Fuel Systems Code"); including, for example,
    • standards for facility design and construction including tank setbacks from property lines;
    • requirements for maintenance, testing, inspection;
    • requirements for staff training; and
    • requirements for facility security.
  • verifying that the transportation of LNG to and from the facility will be in compliance with applicable state and federal requirements;
  • verifying that local fire departments would have the appropriate training, personnel, and equipment to respond to an incident at the proposed facility; and
  • ensuring that the overall project takes into consideration the need to protect public health, property, and the environment from the operations of the facility.

Related Reports

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