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Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
August 2021

LNG Supply Chains: A Supplier-Specific Life-Cycle Assessment for Improved Emission Accounting

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LNG Supply Chains: A Supplier-Specific Life-Cycle Assessment for Improved Emission Accounting
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Global trade in liquefied natural gas (LNG) is growing significantly, as is interest in the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with LNG. Most assessments of life-cycle GHG emissions from LNG have employed national or regional average emission estimates; however, there is significant variability in emissions across different suppliers and across the natural gas supply chain. This work describes a framework for compiling supplier-specific GHG emission data for LNG, from the producing well to regasification at the destination port. A case study is presented for Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass Liquefaction (SPL) LNG supply chain from production in the United States and delivered to China. GHG emission intensities are estimated to be 30–43% lower than other analyses employing national or regional average emission profiles. The segments driving these differences are gas production and gathering, transmission, and ocean transport. Extending the boundaries of this analysis to the power plant illustrates the effect of fuel switching from coal to natural gas; the effect of fuel switching in China is a 47–57% reduction in GHG emission intensity, cradle through power generation. This work highlights the important role customized life-cycle assessments can play to improve GHG emission estimates and differentiate supply chains to inform business and policy decisions related to the transition to a low carbon future.