Natural gas: A wealth of opportunity for Canada’s economic recovery

Natural gas has been central to the Alberta and Canadian economies for more than six decades. It’s critical to our everyday lives, and will be even more important for our future.

That’s why Alberta wants to make sure Canadians get the best value from developing our natural gas resources. The Alberta government recently shared its vision and strategy for how natural gas can grow the economy, attract investment, and create jobs – not just in Alberta, but across the country.

Following the strategy’s release, About Pipelines spoke with Chris Bloomer, President and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), to get his thoughts on the natural gas industry and its importance for Canadians today – and long into the future.

 

What should readers know about how natural gas meets today’s needs and those of tomorrow?

 

Natural gas is more than just methane for heating houses. Take natural gas liquids, such as propane or butane, which come from natural gas. These are essential fuels for remote areas. And natural gas liquids are the building blocks for all types of petrochemicals that make the plastics we use every day. Here are a few examples:

  • Virtually everything in a hospital setting relies on plastics and other petrochemical products.
  • We get paints, computers, telephones, electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels from plastics.
  • The interconnections that make renewable and other technologies work come from plastics.
  • High-strength, low-weight plastics reduce the amount of fuel trucks consume.
  • And you can’t make aircraft without plastics.

Our world is in the early stages of an energy transition and natural gas is an important part of the future. Natural gas is powering electrification in Canada, replacing higher carbon fuels to create electricity and decrease global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) can also help lower GHG emissions when it’s used to displace higher-emitting fuels around the world.

 

How is the natural gas industry important to Canadians?

 

Quick and sustainable economic recovery is vital for the well-being of all Canadians. And I don’t believe the Canadian economy can get back to its potential or full capacity without developing our natural gas resources.

Canada’s natural gas industry can lead to major infrastructure projects. It can attract investment capital. And those activities will create jobs for Canadians. Most importantly, the natural gas industry has the capability to move quickly.

For example, there’s an immediate and growing global demand for cleaner-burning energy sources, which makes the LNG industry an important opportunity. Canada is on the cusp of becoming a major LNG exporter, and that will boost the value we can get for our natural gas resources.

Then there are petrochemical opportunities. That industry still has room to grow. And it can grow quickly, create jobs, and contribute to gross domestic product (GDP).

So, if we build petrochemical facilities quickly, and continue developing our LNG capability, there’s earning potential that can have huge impacts across the country. And, in the future, we’ll be able to develop the hydrogen industry from natural gas, which will be an important part of a low-carbon energy future for Canadians – and possibly the world.

 

What needs to happen to move the natural gas industry forward?

 

Natural gas is here and now. And whether it’s used for cooking and heating, LNG, or petrochemicals, the industry needs transmission and distribution pipelines to get the product to customers.

I’m pleased to see TC Energy announce an expansion to their existing natural gas pipeline system. And as we develop more LNG, we’ll need new pipelines. Coastal GasLink is now in development, and there are two other pipelines proposed for future LNG projects. But there are still regulatory roadblocks. The pipeline industry needs more regulatory clarity and certainty. That way we can attract investment capital from global sources for natural gas and petrochemical projects, as well as hydrogen.

As Canada focuses on growing and maintaining economic resilience, Alberta’s natural gas – transported safely and responsibly by transmission pipelines – can pave the way for post-pandemic economic recovery. With some of the world’s most technologically advanced pipeline infrastructure, CEPA members are ready to play their part for the long-term benefit of Canadians.

About Pipelines thanks Chris Bloomer for his contribution to this blog.