The East Ohio Gas Company built a full-scale commercial liquid natural gas (LNG) plant in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1940 just after a successful
pilot plant built by its sister company, Hope Natural Gas Company of West Virginia. This was the first such plant in the world. Originally it
had three spheres, approximately 63 feet in diameter containing LNG at −260 °F. Each sphere held the equivalent of about 50 million cubic feet
of natural gas. A fourth tank, a cylinder, was added in 1942. It had an equivalent capacity of 100 million cubic feet of gas. The plant
operated successfully for three years. The stored gas was regasified and put into the mains when cold snaps hit and extra capacity was needed.
This precluded the denial of gas to some customers during a cold snap.
The Cleveland plant failed on October 20, 1944 when the cylindrical tank ruptured spilling thousands of gallons of LNG over the plant and nearby neighbourhood. The gas evaporated and caught fire, which caused 130 fatalities. The fire delayed further implementation of LNG facilities for several years. However, over the next 15 years new research on low-temperature alloys, and better insulation materials, set the stage for a revival of the industry. It restarted in 1959 when a U.S. World War II Liberty ship, the Methane Pioneer, converted to carry LNG, made a delivery of LNG from the U.S. Gulf coast to energy starved Great Britain. In June 1964, the world's first purpose-built LNG carrier, the "Methane Princess" entered service. Soon after that a large natural gas field was discovered in Algeria. International trade in LNG quickly followed as LNG was shipped to France and Great Britain from the Algerian fields. One more important attribute of LNG had now been exploited. Once natural gas was liquefied it could not only be stored more easily, but it could be transported. Thus energy could now be shipped over the oceans via LNG the same way it was shipped by oil.
The US LNG industry restarted in 1965 when a series of new plants were built in the U.S. The building continued through the 1970s. These plants were not only used for peak-shaving, as in Cleveland, but also for base-load supplies for places that never had natural gas prior to this. A number of import facilities were built on the East Coast in anticipation of the need to import energy via LNG. However, a recent boom in U.S. natural gas production (2010-2014), enabled by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), has many of these import facilities being considered as export facilities. The first U.S. LNG export was completed in early 2016.
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