Natural gas industry outlines challenges, opportunities in Canada

The Canadian Natural Gas Initiative (CNGI) says that the industry needs to do more to communicate with and reach out to stakeholders and the public if it is to advance its aims and realize the potential of natural gas as a fuel choice for Canadians. The group, which completed an outreach program that took it to eight Canadian cities for discussions with stakeholders concerning the production and use of natural gas, has now released its Report of the Dialogues on Canada’s Natural Gas Industry.

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The Canadian Natural Gas Initiative held “dialogues” with stakeholders in the industry across Canada to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the natural gas industry. (Illustration from cover of the report.)

The objective of the dialogues, said Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, was to understand the challenges and opportunities facing the natural gas industry and identify ways to “better realize the potential of natural gas in the Canadian context.”

The opportunities presented by natural gas for Canada are “broadly recognized,” according to a release from CNGI. Canadians recognize natural gas as an “affordable, secure and reliable fuel choice” as well as the potential for economic benefits from the use of liquefied natural gas.

Challenges identified by participants include environmental impacts associated with producing natural gas, impact on local communities, and the need for skilled workers.

Questions were also raised about price stability, affordability, and the availability of infrastructure to meet transportation demands for the fuel.

CNGI says that the natural gas industry must be seen in the context of energy security, reliability and affordability; economic growth; and environmental performance, all three of which must be advanced concurrently.

The group identified greater use of natural gas in power generation, as a transportation fuel for vehicles and in the marine sector, and increased use in industrial applications as the main opportunities for domestic growth. 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.

To realize the opportunities natural gas presents, the industry sees the need 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.

To ensure natural gas is a fuel choice for Canadians and that the opportunities outlined in its report are realized, CNGI identifies three additional actions that are required:

  • 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.

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