by Christina Nagy-McKenna, Enerdynamics Instructor
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) may soon be available to customers who, due to infrastructure restraints, do not have the option to choose natural gas as a fuel source. ISO (International Organization of Standardization) containers that fit on rail cars, truck trailers, and container ships and can hold 10,000 gallons of LNG are the lynchpin to opening these new markets. The 40-foot by 8-foot containers hold the equivalent of 830 Mcf of natural gas, enough to meet the annual consumption of 13 American households, and they offer an alternative delivery system to the large tanker ships that have been used for many years.
Mainland, remote U.S. markets are the target for one project that utilizes ISO containers, while another company is focused on more distant markets in Alaska, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Each will offer new choices to customers as they manage their environmental and business goals.
In Port Allen, La., NuBlu Energy recently began construction on a small-scale LNG plant that will ship containerized LNG to U.S. markets that do not have access to natural gas pipeline infrastructure. While the company is currently focused on high-use, industrial, and power generation end-use customers, shipping LNG in ISO containers also could be useful to smaller companies that cannot afford the high cost of traditional gas pipeline infrastructure expansions. The first phase of NuBlu’s project will produce up to 30,000 gallons of LNG per day. The company plans to expand to 90,000 gallons per day with 120,000 gallons of on-site storage capacity.
Crowely Maritime entered the LNG market by purchasing Carib Energy LLP in 2013. Among its energy services, Carib LLP, now a Crowley subsidiary, offers containerized transportation of LNG to markets in Alaska, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Small-scale LNG deliveries in ISO containers has helped the company reach end users such as Molinos de Puerto Rico, the largest supplier of flour to Puerto Rico. Using ISO containers, Crowley will transport LNG that it will purchase from Pivotal LNG to its shipping facility in Jacksonville, Fla. From there the containers will be loaded onto a ship and delivered to Puerto Rico where Crowley will oversee the delivery of the containers to the Molinas plant.
These are but two examples of the possible markets that containerized LNG will reach in future years. If the ISO distribution and LNG fuel technologies continue with their early joint success, remote end-use customers will eventually have more fuel choices like the many customers who are connected directly to the gas pipeline grid.
Footnotes and references
 2009 Residential Consumption Survey, Table CE3.1, Household Site End-Use Consumption in the U.S., Totals and Averages, 2009, U.S. Energy Information Administration, January 11, 2013.
“Containerized LNG Broadens Reach of Natural Gas to Off-grid Customers,” October 26, 2016, U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Crowley to Supply LNG to Alaskan Power Plant,” LNG World News, October 16, 2016.
“Pivotal LNG, Crowley’s Carib Energy Reach Multi-Year Supply Agreement for Puerto Rico,” News and Media, August 31, 2016, Crowley Maritime Corporation website.
2009 Residential Consumption Survey, U.S. Energy Information Administration.