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LNG vs. Propane

November 03, 2013

Energy providers in Yukon and NWT are actively considering investments in plant to enable the storage and use of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). Propane has been shipped in by truck for decades. What is the difference in these commodities ?

Liquefied natural gas or LNG is natural gas (predominantly methane, CH4) that has been converted to liquid form for ease of storage or transport. Liquefied natural gas takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state. 1 litre of LNG is equivalent to about 620 litres of natural gas.

Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula C3H8, normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid.  Unlike natural gas, propane is heavier than air (1.5 times as dense). In its raw state, propane sinks and pools at the floor.

Natural gas contains approximately 1,030 BTU per cubic foot and propane contains 2,490 BTU per cubic foot.


LNG is a denser fuel that offers greater cost savings to energy producers than propane. Natural gas prices now are very low, meaning low cost LNG is pricing out other fuels like diesel and propane.

There is potential in the future to locate LNG liquefaction facilities in natural gas supply areas closer to markets in northern Canada. This is particularly true of NWT with vast natural gas resources in the Mackenzie Delta, the Cameron Hills and near the BC border.