Liquefied natural gas (LNG) suppliers are beginning to depend on “virtual pipelines” to move their product to customers located beyond their countries’ regular pipeline grid, consultant Nicholas Newman writes in industry newsletter Rigzone.
The euphemism refers to “regular shipments of LNG or biogas by truck, train, or canal barge,” Newman states, and the approach is becoming more popular, with total spending expected to increase from US$1.07 billion in 2016 to $1.82 billion in 2025. “Virtual pipelines are operating in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, and the U.S., and are under consideration in South Africa, Nigeria, and Mozambique.”
He says Royal Dutch Shell has already invested in a fleet of bunker barges to fuel marine vessels in Europe.
“The great advantage of the virtual gas pipeline is that it is suited to a variety of transport modes and market segments including off-grid factories, power plants, prisons, and communities,” Newman writes.
“On the supply side, greater availability of gas, combined with its increasing affordability, combined with increasing numbers of liquefaction and regasification plants, underpin the growth in virtual pipelines. On the demand side, customers are increasingly seeking cleaner low-carbon solutions to meet their power needs in response to ever-tougher emission controls and the climate agenda.”