Sunday, September 6, 2009

Zero Cost LNG

Can LNG, even after re-gasification and compression into distribution pipelines, ever be considered to have a zero cost? The answer is very, very close to yes, but only if one uses the same idiotic rationale as does the nuclear power industry.

For many years, the nuclear power advocates (see Nuclear Nuts) have bleated incessantly that nuclear power is the cheapest form of electric power, citing the infamous South Texas Nuclear Project for production costs of 1.35 cents per kWh. Fine, marvelous, superb, stupendous achievement. One hardly requires an advanced degree in finance, or a Certified Financial Analyst designation, to easily determine that no one in their right mind would build a new 2200 MW nuclear power plant for $17 to $25 billion and sell the power for 1.35 cents per kWh. Yet that is the completely misleading and irresponsible disinformation that nuclear nuts spread in their daily campaign for nuclear power.

On the same basis, therefore, what would be the price of LNG? Could it be zero? Probably not zero, but it would be far cheaper than nuclear power. Even the electric power produced from a natural gas power plant would have nearly zero cost. The way the nuclear nuts obtain their 1.35 cents is merely to ignore the many billions in capital costs to build the plant, and focus instead only on the fuel cost, labor, and maintenance. Natural gas from LNG is almost free on that basis. The gas fields are directly connected to the LNG plant, and the LNG plant provides its own energy by consuming a bit of the natural gas. The re-gasification plant also consumes zero energy, as it too is powered entirely by burning a bit of the re-gasified LNG. Even the LNG ships that transport the LNG across oceans have zero operating cost, as they too are powered by burning re-gasified LNG.

The next time one hears a nuclear nut telling anyone that nuclear power is the cheapest power around, at only 1.5 to 3 cents per kWh, tell them that electric power from natural gas is far cheaper. Tell them that LNG is just about free. Then when they begin to argue, ask them if they want to include capital costs, and compare prices on that basis. Otherwise, nuclear nuts should just shut up.

Their little game has been exposed.

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