The LNG industry is an interesting one. The ability to take methane out of the ground, chill it to -162°C so that it liquefies at atmospheric pressure, then pump it on to a ship and sail that ship to wherever the gas needed is an incredible feat of engineering.
The liquefied gas is then stored in vast tanks the size of Wembley stadium and re-vaporised on demand to provide natural gas for power stations and other facilities.
LNG contracts are often locked in for 20+ years as the upfront investment in a new facility is massive. “Take or Pay” contracts are common too – where a buyer HAS to take the LNG (even if they don’t want or need it) or pay a proportion of the price anyway. The supplier will then sell the cargo on the spot market.
Early plants sprung up in the north Africa the Middle East and Far East. I visited the MLNG-Dua site at Bintulu in Malaysia, back in the late 90s to do some trouble shooting, but these days Australia is fast becoming the market leader.
The latest innovation that is about to hit the water is FLNG – a Floating LNG production and storage facility. FPSOs (Floating production, storage and offloading) facilities for crude oil have been commonly used for decades, and enable remote fields to be accessed relatively cheaply but doing the same for natural gas has always been more of a challenge.
In this article from Downstream Today, it’s clear that Shell see FLNG as the future for them; http://www.downstreamtoday.com/news/article.aspx?a_id=46823
If you want to read a bit more about LNG, here’s a link to the wiki page;