Over time, heat and pressure in the earth’s crust turned these plants and animals into hydrocarbons and the fossil fuels we use today: coal, oil and natural gas. Coal is the solid form of hydrocarbons and oil is a liquid form.
Natural gas is made up of the lightest hydrocarbon molecules. It is colourless, odourless and the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, producing half the greenhouse gas emissions of coal and two-thirds the emissions of oil.
According to the Government of British Columbia, the province has an enormous supply of natural gas – an estimated 2,933 trillion cubic feet – primarily in four key areas in northeastern BC: the Horn River Basin, the Montney Basin, the Liard Basin and the Cordova Embayment. This is enough natural gas to support import and export markets for the next 150 years. A significant amount of this natural gas is accessible through sophisticated drilling technology, including hydraulic fracturing.
Canada moves its natural gas resources seamlessly across provincial and national borders, from supply basins to demand centres. The Canadian Gas Association estimates the country has more than 452,000 kilometres (281,000 miles) of natural gas pipelines.
In 2011, Canadians consumed 2.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This represents about 30 per cent of all energy consumed in Canada.
The US natural gas pipeline network is a highly-integrated grid that can move natural gas to nearly any location in the continental United States. The intricate transportation system is made up of about 2.4 million kilometres (1.5 million miles) of mainline and other pipelines that link production areas and natural gas markets.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates there are 1,532.82 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas resources in the United States. Given US production levels and the EIA’s estimate for available domestic resources, there is enough natural gas in the United States to meet more than 75 years of domestic production.
Today, Americans use about 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year, which is about 25 per cent of the energy consumed in the United States.