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Liquefied natural gas for the UK: a life cycle assessment

Tagliaferri, C, Clift, Roland, Lettieri, P and Chapman, C (2017) Liquefied natural gas for the UK: a life cycle assessment International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 22 (12). pp. 1944-1956.

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Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expected to become an important component of the UK’s energy supply because the national hydrocarbon reserves on the continental shelf have started diminishing. However, use of any carbon-based fuel runs counter to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Hence, a broad environmental assessment to analyse the import of LNG to the UK is required.


A cradle to gate life cycle assessment has been carried out of a specific but representative case: LNG imported to the UK fromQatar. The analysis covers the supply chain, from gas extraction through to distribution to the end-user, assuming state-of-the-art facilities and ships. A sensitivity analysis was also conducted on key parameters including the energy requirements of the liquefaction and vaporisation processes, fuel for propulsion, shipping distance, tanker volume and composition of raw gas.

Results and discussion

All environmental indicators of the CML methodology were analysed. The processes of liquefaction, LNG transport and evaporation determine more than 50% of the cradle to gate global warming potential (GWP). When 1% of the total gas delivered is vented as methane emissions leakage throughout the supply chain, the GWP increases by 15% compared to the GWP of the base scenario. The variation of the GWP increases to 78% compared to the base scenario when 5% of the delivered gas is considered to be lost as vented emissions. For all the scenarios analysed, more than 75% of the total acidification potential (AP) is due to the sweetening of the natural gas before liquefaction. Direct emissions from transport always determine between 25 and 49%of the total eutrophication potential (EP) whereas the operation and maintenance of the sending ports strongly influences the fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity potential (FAETP).


The study highlights long-distance transport of LNG and natural gas processing, including sweetening, liquefaction and vaporisation, as the key operations that strongly affect the life cycle impacts. Those cannot be considered negligible when the environmental burdens of the LNG supply chain are considered. Furthermore, the effect of possible fugitive methane emissions along the supply chain are critical for the impact of operations such as extraction, liquefaction, storage before transport, transport itself and evaporation.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Centre for Environmental Strategy
Authors :
Tagliaferri, C
Lettieri, P
Chapman, C
Date : 9 March 2017
DOI : 10.1007/s11367-017-1285-z
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons At tribution 4.0 International License (http:/ /, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Life cycle assessment . Natural gas . UK LNG
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 15 May 2018 10:37
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 19:09

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