Sunday, June 23, 2024

New Report Warns Expanding Liquid Natural Gas Infrastructure Could Harm Oceans


New maps from research organization Earth Insight paint a sobering picture of current plans to expand Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) infrastructure worldwide, posing threats to the global climate as well as ocean biodiversity.

The maps were released in a report last week ahead of World Oceans Day on June 8, titled “Anything But Natural: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Infrastructure Expansion Threats to Coastal & Marine Ecosystems.”

LNG is mostly composed of methane gas. When cooled, the gas becomes liquid and can be stored and transported by sea using special tankers.

Burning methane obtain energy produces less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels, such as oil or gas. However, methane itself is in itself a greenhouse gas, responsible for almost a third of all global warming we are experiencing today.

Global heatmap of proposed LNG expansion
Global heatmap of proposed LNG expansion (Image credit: Earth Insight)

Case studies and regional maps in the report show:

  • In the United States, developments along the Gulf Coast will disproportionately impact communities of color in some of the poorer states of the country. These communities already experience poor air quality from operating LNG facilities and regularly suffer downpours and floods caused by climate change-fueled hurricanes and storms;
  • In Mexico’s Baja California state, new LNG infrastructure threatens “the world’s aquarium,” home to 40% of all marine mammals and many endangered species. If current plans go ahead, eight new terminals will be built in a region that is a whale sanctuary and is listed as a UNESCO World heritage site;
  • In the Philippines, building new LNG terminals will add more pressure to the Verde Island Passage, one of the world’s most biodiverse marine places The region, often called “the Amazon of the Oceans,” is already one of the world’s busiest marine routes and was hit by an oil spill in 2023 with devastating consequences;
  • In Mozambique and East Africa, gas developments have already caused the forced displacement of local communities and new plans threaten several critically endangered marine species. The offshore expansion will take place along a coastline full of mangroves and coral reefs;
  • and, in Brazil, there are plans to build new LNG terminals along the Atlantic coast, a region that is already cluttered with oil and gas infrastructure. Whale populations will be particularly affected, as the new developments overlap with their breeding grounds and migration routes.

The report warns that new LNG facilities will increase shipping intensity as well as noise pollution in marine migration corridors, mating and nursery areas for species like whales and dolphins, and important fishing grounds.

You can read the report here.

Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy is a TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer, and PADI Staff and Trimix Instructor. Diving for 28 years, a dive pro for 14, I have traveled extensively chasing my passion for diving. I am passionate about everything diving, with a keen interest in exploration, Sharks and big stuff, Photography and Decompression theory. Diving is definitely the one and only passion that has stayed with me my whole life! Sam is a Staff Writer for