Natural gas

  • Natural gas is 95% methane. 
  • The chemical symbol for methane is CH4, which means that a molecule of methane is made up of one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen. 
  • Methane results from the natural transformation of organic materials over millions of years. 
  • It can also be obtained through a process of biomethanization from organic materials (such as table leftovers). 

Liquified natural gas (LNG)

  • Natural gas becomes liquid when it is cooled to -162 °C. 
  • When it is liquefied, natural gas occupies 600 times less space, making it easier to transport and store. It is maintained at that temperature with insulated tanks, similar to thermoses.
  • Whether or not in liquefied form, natural gas is colourless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. 
  • LNG is less dense than water, making it not water soluble. If it gets in contact with water, it accumulates on the surface and perhaps freezes it a little. Then the LNG rapidly warms up and dissipates into the sky above, leaving no trace behind.

The Gaz Métro liquefaction plant (LSR)

The natural gas liquefaction process has existed for over 50 years. In Québec, Gaz Métro has been liquefying natural gas at its Liquefaction, Storage and Regasification (LSR) Plant in Montréal East since 1969.

Originally, Gaz Métro used liquefied natural gas to meet energy demand during peak periods when it was very cold in the winter. Today, LNG is also used as an energy source in the transportation, major industry and electricity production sectors.

LNG used in many sectors

The delivered LNG allows companies to meet a variety of energy needs: industrial facilities out of reach of the Gaz Métro network, heavy road transportation, maritime transportation, rail transportation, mines, etc.


Used in heavy transportation industry as a replacement for petroleum products, LNG can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 25%, in addition to lowering costs.

Heavy road transportation

In Québec, LNG has been used in road transportation since 2011, thanks to an initiative by Robert Transport. The Blue Road created by Gaz Métro Transport Solutions, a Gaz Métro subsidiary, now has a total of five LNG refuelling stations for heavy trucks, three of them in Québec.

Maritime transportation

Canadian and international standards for pollutant emissions in the maritime industry are growing stricter. In this context, natural gas is a cleaner fuel that is gaining popularity around the world. In Québec, the MV F.-A.-Gauthier is the first ferry in North America to run on liquefied natural gas. It is also the first ship fuelled by natural gas in Canada, all categories combined.

Regions outside the gas network

Since it takes up less space and is easy to transport by tanker truck, LNG enables cleaner energy supply for industries located outside the gas network.


Natural gas can be used both as an input in certain industrial processes and as a powerful combustible for heating processes.

Communities or mines outside the gas network

Similarly, LNG can also be used both for heating purposes and as a cleaner fuel in electrical generators to produce electricity for mining facilities or communities beyond Québec energy networks.

Photo credit: Renard Mine Camp © Stornoway.

The advantages of natural gas as fuel

Whether or not in liquefied form, natural gas has many advantages as a fuel.
  • It reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 25%, compared with marine diesel. 
  • It reduces noise and vibrations, which is more respectful of marine life. 
  • It offers better energy performance and easier maintenance.  
  • It respects the most recent international standards for polluting emissions.

Natural gas as a fuel in other parts of the world

  • Over 18 million road vehicles in the world operate on natural gas, liquefied or not, depending on the type of vehicle.
  • There are currently more than 60 ships that run on liquefied natural gas in the world, including about 25 ferries, one of which being the MV F.-A.-Gauthier
  • Over 150 ships that will run on liquefied natural gas within the next few years havebeen ordered in the world.