Natural gas industry responds to issues raised in cross-country discussions

April 11, 2013 - Calgary, Alberta

The Canadian Natural Gas Initiative (CNGI) today released its Report of the Dialogues on Canada's Natural Gas Industry, the result of an outreach program that took senior industry representatives to eight cities across Canada for discussions with stakeholders about natural gas production and use.

"As Canada's natural gas industry expands in existing operating areas such as British Columbia and Alberta and in areas that are future prospects such as New Brunswick and Quebec, communications and outreach with stakeholders and the public are increasingly becoming an imperative," said Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. "The primary objective of these Dialogues was to better understand Canadian perspectives on natural gas' challenges and opportunities, and to identify actions that could be pursued to address issues and concerns, so as to better realize the potential of natural gas in the Canadian context."

The natural gas opportunity for Canada was broadly recognized by Dialogues participants. They recognized natural gas as an affordable, secure and reliable fuel choice, and they recognized the potential for economic benefits arising from increased domestic use and exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). There was widespread recognition that natural gas can contribute to improved environmental performance.

However, Dialogues participants also identified substantive challenges to realizing these opportunities, including impacts on the environment and communities where natural gas is developed. Other concerns included Canada's competitive advantage in a highly competitive global market, the need for a skilled workforce, and the need to address environmental challenges while maintaining efficient and timely planning and regulatory systems. Questions also were raised about price stability and affordability, the availability of infrastructure to meet new transportation fuel demands, siting issues for natural gas-fired power generation plants, and the role of technology to secure the benefits and offset the risks arising from the natural gas opportunity.

From CNGI's perspective, it is important to view the natural gas industry in the context of energy security, reliability and affordability; economic growth; and environmental performance, all three of which must be advanced concurrently.

"We heard Canadians in different regions of the country talk about the importance of access to natural gas as a low-emission and affordable energy choice," said Timothy Egan, president of the Canadian Gas Association. "Our job as an industry now is to articulate how the Canadian natural gas industry can deliver the significant economic and energy benefits for industry, for commercial institutions and for residential customers."

The abundance of natural gas in North America will help ensure that natural gas remains an affordable, secure and reliable source of energy in the foreseeable future, benefitting consumers and providing a competitively priced fuel to Canadian businesses and industries. Although natural gas already is a foundational element of Canada's energy mix, there are opportunities to broaden its use domestically and globally.

Domestic growth opportunities include more use in power generation, more use as a transportation fuel for vehicles and the marine sector, and increased use in industrial applications. Moreover, natural gas presents an opportunity to provide energy services to communities and businesses in Canada's North.

From a global perspective, a major opportunity exists to expand natural gas markets offshore via liquefied natural gas exports from Canada's West Coast, particularly to Asia where demand for natural gas is growing rapidly.From an economic perspective, the natural gas industry already contributes to economic growth, job creation and government revenues, and projections for future economic growth are significant.

"However, growth projections largely depend on industry's ability to broaden markets for natural gas, both domestic and export," said Brenda Kenny, president of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. "Our conversations confirm that, developed responsibly and with appropriate regulatory regimes, natural gas infrastructure is safe and enables environmental and economic benefits for the country as a whole."

To realize the opportunities natural gas presents, the natural gas industry recognizes opportunities for improvement in three areas:

  • Impacts on local communities, local and regional environmental performance, and achieving community acceptance;
  • Sustaining industry competitiveness (fiscal, regulatory, trade/market access and workforce); and,
  • Meeting customer needs.

In addition, three actions are required to ensure natural gas is a fuel choice for Canadians and that the opportunities outlined in this report are realized:

  • Big picture planning and strategy: focus on an energy framework that could readily be adapted as the basis for energy policy in any single province;
  • Building dialogue, and improving energy awareness and literacy across Canada and across the full value chain of the natural gas industry; and,
  • Driving better practice across the full value chain, which is the responsibility of the natural gas industry.

It is the natural gas industry's hope that the responses outlined in this report provide a foundation for further dialogue and additional impetus to advance solutions that are in the interest of all Canadians.

The Dialogues were held in Moncton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Red Deer, Vancouver and Fort St. John. Participants included representatives from business, labour, academia, NGOs, environmental organizations and aboriginal communities. Senior representatives from the full value chain of Canada's natural gas industry also participated in each Dialogue.

The report on can be downloaded here.

The Canadian Natural Gas Initiative is led by Canada's natural gas industry - upstream production, midstream and downstream. While the three "streams" are distinct - with unique requirements, regulations and technologies - they link closely and share the common purpose of reliably and safely delivering clean, affordable Canadian natural gas to the market for a variety of uses. Our purpose is to develop objective, fact-based educational materials about Canada's natural gas resources to raise understanding of the role that natural gas should play in achieving Canada's energy, environmental and economic objectives. We want to demonstrate to Canadians how natural gas is a smart foundation for Canada's evolving energy mix and to encourage supportive public policy in Canada.

Partners of this initiative include the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Gas Association, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources and the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance.