LNG, shorthand for liquefied natural gas, is gas that's been condensed into a liquid form by chilling it to approximately −162 °C (−260 °F). That gas is placed in LNG tankers, also known as "trains," then shipped off to lucrative global markets.
One LNG export terminal—Cheniere's Sabine Pass LNG export terminal, located in Sabine Pass, La.—has already received a federal permit from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). It is awaiting an obligatory rubber stamp from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Many other LNG export terminals are also in the works, with many new key pieces of the puzzle unfolding in the past week. Thus, a lengthy primer, starting in northwest North America and eventually, meandering southward toward Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, and then eventually heading northeast, is necessary to put the LNG export boom into a proper context.
A lesson in North American LNG export terminals is, in actuality, a lesson in the entire geography of the North American unconventional oil and gas infrastructure put on the map, so to speak, by the documentary film, “Gasland.”
The state of Alaska recently made a game-changing announcement for the oil and gas industry.
Prudhoe Bay, a port located in the Northern Slope area of Alaska—rather than serve merely as the beginning-point of a TransCanada tar sands pipeline, the Alaska Pipeline Project, which would have originated there and eventually ended up feeding into Alberta, Canada—will also serve as the end-point of a series of inter-Alaska pipelines running from Point Thomson oil and gas field, which is located roughly 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay.
These pipelines will carry natural gas to an LNG export terminal in Prudhoe Bay, which will then feed a hungry Asian market with this lucrative prize. Reuters explained, "Exxon and partners BP and ConocoPhillips have agreed to build a pipeline from the field to deliver 70,000 barrels per day of liquids into the Trans Alaska Pipeline System."
The oil and gas industry, it seems, got the sweetest of sweetheart deals in this Faustian bargain with the Alaska state government this time around the block.
TransCanada Corporation (yes, that TransCanada) also won a license to ship much of the oil and gas piped to Prudhoe Bay southward toward Valdez, Alaska. Reuters wrote, "The deal is a boon for TransCanada, which plans to build a natural gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope to the south coast, feeding a possible export plant that would ship gas to thirsty markets in Asia."
Point Thomson oil and gas field contains some 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to Reuters. In short, a hungry Asian market will be fed with plenty of fuel from Alaska's gas bounty to fulfill its burgeoning oil and gas needs.
Many observers thought that perhaps it was "game over" for the great game of LNG exports in the aftermath of the February 2011 closure of the Kenai LNG terminal, formerly run by ConocoPhillips and located in Kenai, Alaska, which is 136 miles west of Valdez.
They thought wrong. The fun, it appears, has only just begun in Alaska.
Kitimat, British Columbia
Kitimat, British Columbia is home to three LNG export facilities: the Kitimat LNG Facility, the B.C. LNG Facility, and a facility co-owned by Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina. Kitimat LNG is co-owned by EnCana, EOG Resources and Apache, while B.C. LNG is run by Douglas Channel Energy Partnership in a complex co-ownership arrangement.
EnCana, EOG and Apache recently announced that it would have all of its ducks in the row by the end of 2012, speaking with regards to gaining capital investors in the project.
Once the investor terms of agreement are set, fracked unconventional gas is likely to begin its pipeline journey from Canada's Horn River Shale basin, via the Pacific Trail Pipelines, and head westward to Kitimat, where it will be placed in LNG trains and exported off to highly profitable Asian markets.
One would be wrong to assume the only major energy and climate battle Canada has on its hands is the tar sands project.
If only that were the case.
Coos Bay, Ore.
Coos Bay, Oregon—famous for being the hometown of the late long-distance running legend Steve Prefontaine—is the proposed home for the Jordan Cove LNG facility, and has been the epicenter of the backlash against the North American LNG export boom.
Jordan Cove will be the final destination for unconventional gas fracked and piped out of the Niobrara Shale basin, located in the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas. The shale gas obtained via the Niobrara, as of now, is carried out of the basin from the Ruby Pipeline, beginning in Opal, Wyoming and ending in Malin, Oregon.
PG&E Corporation, Williams Companies and Veresen U.S. Power Inc. are co-owners of a hotly contested proposed 234-mile long pipeline, the Pacific Connector. This pipeline, which would carry fracked gas from Malin, Ore. to Coos Bay, home of the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal, is awaiting federal approval.
Not only has there been citizen backlash against both the pipeline and the LNG export terminal, but furthermore, Oregon's federal-level representatives—including U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D) and U.S. Rep. Peter Defazio (D)—have voiced strong concern about the project, introducing legislation in the attempt to block both LNG exports and the pipeline.
Corpus Christi, Texas
On March 14, Cheniere announced it would be filing for its second LNG export terminal in July or August of this year, this one in the scenic city of Corpus Christi, Texas, 250 miles west of Cheniere's already existing Sabine Pass LNG export terminal.
"Corpus Christi would comprise three production trains, or units, all with the capacity to export 4.5 million tonnes per year of LNG," Reuters explained.
The terminal would take gas fracked from the Eagle Ford Shale, carried over via pipeline, and place it on the European gas export market.
105 miles southwest of Sabine Pass is the site of another proposed LNG export facility in the small city of Freeport, Texas, which has a population of 12,049, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.
This LNG facility is co-owned by Cheniere, Dow Chemical, Osaka Gas and ConocoPhillips. The facility applied for a DOE export license in January 2012 and is the subject of an environmental review by FERC.
The grassroots activist group, Stop Freeport LNG, is fighting tooth and nail to keep the LNG facility out of their community.
Fracking for "National Security" Exposed
This geography lesson, if nothing else, exposes the lie that fracking for unconventional oil and gas in shale basins around North America has anything at all to do with "national security" concerns.
Though the industry has a slogan that reads, "Drill A Gas Well, Bring A Soldier Home," the truth is far more complex than that easy-to-digest propaganda. The industry, as this article has made clear, is building up a complex armada of pipelines and LNG terminals, putting the "national security" lie to rest.
If the "propaganda table" had four legs to stand on, then this table is no longer standing and at this point in history, is merely a tabletop.
For more information, click here.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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