The Changing Patterns of Canada’s Natural Gas Trade
Natural gas has historically moved from Canada’s Western Sedimentary Basin through extensive underground transmission and distribution pipeline infrastructure to customers throughout Canada and to the United States. Strong growth in natural gas production, particularly in the northeastern part of the United States, has changed the supply picture across the continent, with implications for natural gas prices (more affordable), market opportunities (more diverse), and flows (more two-way across the continent instead of one way).
This report examines the last point: the changing natural gas trade flows. Looking particularly at the trade between Canada and the U.S., the report highlights how changing patterns are a result of the economics of the various supply basins and their comparative advantages in terms of cost and proximity to the large natural gas demand centres of the continent.
Countries around the world are facing serious challenges as they try to maintain their electricity systems and build new capacity to meet growing demand. The traditional system model focused almost exclusively on reliability and used large centralized generation facilities and a vast network of electrical transmission and distribution lines to bring power to communities. This model is under increasing pressure as technology advances and the expectations of the public continue to grow. These pressures are pushing towards a model (yet to be fully defined) that can balance a very complex suite of, at times, competing preferences including decentralized generation, renewable technology, and minimal community “impact,” all while maintaining reliability and affordability for customers. This report reviews Canada’s current electricity system and examines how it may evolve. It highlights the role of clean and affordable natural gas in today’s system, and the role the commodity – and natural gas infrastructure – can play in the model as it evolves.
Canada’s natural gas distribution and transmission companies deliver energy solutions to more than 6.5 million homes, businesses, and institutions in communities from coast to coast to coast. Today well over half of the Canadian population relies on affordable, clean, safe, and reliable natural gas in homes, apartments, buildings, hospitals, schools, businesses and industry. An ever improving supply picture makes the long-term value of natural gas even more positive. This bulletin looks at the next long supply opportunity - natural gas hydrates.
Natural gas has been used in Canada for well over 100 years and is a safe, reliable solution to Canada’s current and future energy needs. Over those 100 years, stringent safety standards and regulations have been developed to govern natural gas exploration, production, transmission, distribution and end use, demonstrating the Canadian industry’s commitment to safety.
The natural gas industry employs current engineering practices and technology to more effectively move gas from the wellhead to consumers. The Canadian natural gas pipeline network consists of well over 500,000 kilometres of pipelines built from many combinations of pipe material and size. In all pipeline systems, advanced technologies are used to ensure pipeline integrity, to control pressures, and to monitor the flow of gas.