LNG Supporters, opponents have their own spin

PORT OF BROWNSVILLE — “They are not like belching-smoke-kinds-of facilities, so you don’t see anything. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t emissions.”

Liquefied natural gas expert Susan Sakmar has traveled around the world visiting LNG plants all in an effort to research the topic she found so interesting several years ago. Since that time, she has put together what she calls an unbiased book about LNG called “Energy for the 21st Century.”

Sakmar, an Andrews Kurth Energy Law Scholar who is a visiting professor at the University of Houston Law Center, has a general belief about the impacts of all facets of LNG


“It can’t be that black and white,” she says about the environmental effects of LNG. “Otherwise, people wouldn’t spend years arguing. Then, when we get into the research, it isn’t black and white. You have to dig deep and it depends on sensitivities, too.”

The U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory reports the greenhouse gas emissions of the LNG process, from natural gas extraction through usage, contributes emissions of mainly carbon dioxide and methane.

About one-tenth of that is directly related to the liquefaction process. Another 5 percent is from the tanker transportation and regasification. About 75 percent of the emissions are from the power plant operations at the end of the process in which the gas goes to homes and is used.

The emissions for the life cycle of LNG are about half that of coal power.

“Are there emissions? Yes,” she said about liquefaction plants like those being proposed at the Port of Brownsville.