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Int J Environ Stud. 2012 Jun;69(3):407-426. Epub 2012 May 1.

Natural gas and CO2 price variation: impact on the relative cost-efficiency of LNG and pipelines.

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Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).


THIS ARTICLE DEVELOPS A FORMAL MODEL FOR COMPARING THE COST STRUCTURE OF THE TWO MAIN TRANSPORT OPTIONS FOR NATURAL GAS: liquefied natural gas (LNG) and pipelines. In particular, it evaluates how variations in the prices of natural gas and greenhouse gas emissions affect the relative cost-efficiency of these two options. Natural gas is often promoted as the most environmentally friendly of all fossil fuels, and LNG as a modern and efficient way of transporting it. Some research has been carried out into the local environmental impact of LNG facilities, but almost none into aspects related to climate change. This paper concludes that at current price levels for natural gas and CO2 emissions the distance from field to consumer and the volume of natural gas transported are the main determinants of transport costs. The pricing of natural gas and greenhouse emissions influence the relative cost-efficiency of LNG and pipeline transport, but only to a limited degree at current price levels. Because more energy is required for the LNG process (especially for fuelling the liquefaction process) than for pipelines at distances below 9100 km, LNG is more exposed to variability in the price of natural gas and greenhouse gas emissions up to this distance. If the prices of natural gas and/or greenhouse gas emission rise dramatically in the future, this will affect the choice between pipelines and LNG. Such a price increase will be favourable for pipelines relative to LNG.


Greenhouse gases; Liquefied natural gas; Natural gas; Pipelines; Pricing

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