Natural gas is abundant, inexpensive, and there when we need it. So, this week, we thought it would be helpful to share some facts that you might not be aware of about this important, clean burning fuel source:
Seven important facts about natural gas
- When natural gas comes out of the ground, it usually contains natural gas liquid condensates and associated gasses, such as butane, propane and ethane. This is called raw or ‘wet’ natural gas.
- The raw natural gas is sent from the wellhead to the processing plant via gathering systems consisting of small-diameter pipelines. Standards require that the wet natural gas be processed to separate the natural gas liquids and remove any associated gasses, in addition to any impurities, such as water or sulphur, before it can be transported for long distances by pipeline.
- Natural gas liquids are separated for use in manufacturing – such as feedstocks for petrochemicals, transportation – and as a heat source, such as propane fuel for barbecues or butane for lighters.
- Once the liquids are removed, what’s left behind is mostly methane, which is called ‘dry’ natural gas, or just natural gas.
- Natural gas is non-corrosive, colourless and odourless. In fact, an odorant with a distinctive smell is added to the natural gas that goes to consumers’ homes, making it easy for people to detect gas leaks.
- Natural gas is the fuel we use for heating and cooling our homes in many parts of Canada; this gas is more than 90 per cent methane. Another form is compressed natural gas (CNG) – not to be confused with liquified natural gas (LNG) – which is compressed and stored in tanks to be used as a gasoline alternative for vehicles.
- When used for power generation, natural gas (methane) produces up to 50 per cent less carbon dioxide than coal, and 20 to 30 per cent less carbon dioxide than oil. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and an important part of the solution for global climate change, especially in developing countries that rely heavily on coal for electricity and manufacturing.
Canada needs to get our natural gas to markets that need it
Global demand for natural gas is growing. Canada has an abundance of natural gas. But natural gas prices are at the lowest they’ve been in decades due to decreased market demand from our primary U.S. customers. For Canadians to realize the value of this important fuel, which has the potential to play a major role in the global transition to cleaner energy, Canada has to find ways to get its natural gas to markets in Asia. Those are the factors that are spurring the growth of projects to convert natural gas to LNG so it can be exported to overseas customers who need it.