LNG Explosion Underlines Need for Renewable Independence

June 14, 2022

Our. global economy is too dependent on fossil fuels that can be cut off in an instant.

Will Manidis on Twitter:

Freeport, one of the largest US plants exporting liquefied natural gas, exploded on Wednesday. 

Freeport represents a critical piece of infrastructure in Europe’s divestment from Russian oil. Yet this story is almost no where in the mainsteam news, so let’s dig in.

Freeport is represents over 20% of US natural gas exports. A ten billion plus+ capex project, the plant processes two billion cubic feet a day of pipeline-quality natural gas.

The plant spits off $7.4b in revenue yearly. 80% of its shipments are direct to Europe.

As Europe attempts to divest from Russian oil, it becomes increasingly reliant on the constant stream of cargo ships from ports like Freeport. 

LNG is the key to energy independence for western europe, and is crippled if we continue to lose infrastructure like freeport. 

So what exactly happened at Freeport?

We still do not know. The explosion occurred at 11:40 a.m. CT at on Quintana Island, 65 miles south of Houston. The explosion caused a fire that sent black smoke billowing into the air and could be felt from dozens of miles away.

While no one was injured, the response included 26 fire departments from across the state, and reports of half a dozen federal agencies. 

Freeport’s Explosion, even if by natural causes, represents a massive win for Russian interests. 

Analysts believe that the outage will take 12+ cargoes off the market this summer, amounting to nearly one million tons of LNG that will not be available to Europe before winter.

Natural gas spot prices in the UK have jumped more than 30 percent percent on news. 

As we find out exactly what caused Freeport, it’s a shocking reminder of the fragility of our core energy infrastructure. A constant reminder that we are only a few bad actors away from total collapse. 

Freeport LNG:

At this time, completion of all necessary repairs and a return to full plant operations is not expected until late 2022.  Given the relatively contained area of the facility physically impacted by the incident, a resumption of partial operations is targeted to be achieved in approximately 90 days, once the safety and security of doing so can be assured, and all regulatory clearances are obtained.

Freeport LNG is mindful of the impact this incident and our suspension of operations has on our personnel, our surrounding community, and the domestic and international gas and LNG markets.  We have immense gratitude for the selfless efforts undertaken by Freeport LNG operators and emergency response personnel and local emergency responders to quickly address and contain the impacts of the event on our facilities, our personnel, and the surrounding community.


5 Responses to “LNG Explosion Underlines Need for Renewable Independence”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    I get the impression from my Industrial Process Engineer sister that many if not most chemical plants and refineries play chicken with safety procedures, which get reviewed and updated only after some industrial accident gets their attention. The safety protocols are perhaps followed rigorously but idiomatically, with few current workers understanding the implication of all of the real physical implementations versus the few labeled gauges and valves that they interactive with 95% of the time.

    It’s entirely plausible to me that the drive to produce more LNG for the high-price market wasn’t friendly to any supervisor who wanted to stop to check anything.

  2. An LNG explosion does not underline the need for renewables. It underlines the need for nuclear. Renewables are utterly dependent on gas for backup. Just look at California’s electricity mix. And if you think natural gas is dangerous, just wait til you start using hydrogen.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      no nuclear plant will ever be built that is not backed up by other generation – their refueling process takes 4- 6 weeks and has to be done every 18 months. Moreover, batteries are now outcompeting gas for peaking purposes, and so firmed renewables will be grabbing larger and larger share as gas prices continue to rise.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Hydrogen can’t be used to more than supplement natgas as a fuel, as the plumbing infrastructure for natgas is not suitable for hydrogen (H2 embrittles metal and leaks much more easily than CH4). “Green Hydrogen” is good for the many industrial applications that need H2 as an ingredient, but I can’t see it having more than a transient use as a grid fuel supplement (space rockets, maybe) until the rest of the grid modernizes.

      Also, this LNG explosion event means much less for its physical hazards than the ecopolitical damage in the face of the Ukraine war (much like the loss of Port Fourchon from Ida damage).

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