Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Infrastructure Security: Background and Issues for Congress [September 9, 2003]   [open pdf - 228KB]

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a hazardous fuel frequently shipped in massive tankers from overseas to U.S. ports. LNG is also manufactured domestically and is often stored near population centers. Because LNG infrastructure is highly visible and easily identified, it can be vulnerable to terrorist attack. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. LNG industry and federal agencies have put new measures in place to protect LNG infrastructure and respond to the possibility of terrorism. Nonetheless, public concerns about LNG risks continue to raise questions about LNG security. While LNG has historically made up a small part of U.S. natural gas supplies, rising gas prices and the possibility of domestic shortages are sharply increasing LNG demand. Faced with this growth in demand and public concerns, Congress is examining the adequacy of federal LNG security initiatives. LNG infrastructure consists primarily of tankers, import terminals, and inland storage plants. There are six active U.S. terminals and proposals for over 20 others. Potentially catastrophic events could arise from a serious accident or attack on such facilities, such as pool or vapor cloud fires. But LNG has an exemplary safety record for the last 40 years, and no LNG tanker or land-based facility has been attacked by terrorists. Experts debate the likelihood and possible impacts from LNG attacks, but recent studies have concluded that such risks, while significant, are not as serious as is popularly believed. Federal initiatives to secure LNG are still evolving, but a variety of industry and agency representatives suggest that these initiatives are reducing the vulnerability of LNG to terrorism.

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32073
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