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About Natural Gas

Natural gas is a naturally occuring fuel. It is an invisible gas that is ready to use when it comes out of a pipeline. It is different from gasoline, a liquid that is made by refining crude oil.

Natural gas is a vapour or "gas" that is commonly used as a fuel for cooking and heating because it is clean and safe. It heats homes and businesses in the northern communities of Inuvik and Norman Wells. It is also used as an energy source to generate electricity and to generate steam used to produce heavy oil and oil found in the oil sands.

Natural Gas Uses Cooking Natural Gas Uses in the home Natural Gas Uses Electricity

What are Natural Gas Liquids?

Sometimes natural gas liquids (or "NGLs") are found with the natural gas. These can include butane and pentane. They are liquids, much like gasoline, and can be used as other kinds of fuels. For example, propane may be used to heat homes or barbeques and butane may be used in lighters for campfires.

How is Natural Gas Formed?

Natural gas is formed over millions of years through the natural breakdown of plant, animal and sea life. Deep in the earth the natural gas is trapped in the spaces between grains of rock. Large bodies of rock that contain natural gas are called resevoirs or natural gas fields. Of the natural gas fields that have been found in the Mackenzie Delta, Niglintgak, Taglu and Parsons Lake are the three largest natural gas fields that will be developed.

How is Natural Gas Moved?

Natural gas is brought to the surface through wells drilled into the natural gas resevoir. Because natural gas reservoirs are under pressure deep in the earth, the natural gas rises through the well without the need for compressors. Once at the surface, it must be processed to remove water and natural gas liquids to prevent blocking in the pipeline while the natural gas is transported. It is then fed into a pipeline, which moves it to market. Sometimes the natural gas is at a lower pressure than the pipeline pressure, or sometimes it loses pressure due to friction as it travels through the pipeline. In both cases the pressure is increased by compressors.

Measurement of Natural Gas Volume

Natural gas is measured by units that describe volume. Volume is the amount of material required to fill a three-dimensional space such as a basketball. The Niglintgak, Taglu and Parsons Lake natural gas fields together can supply about 800 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Illustration of Measurement of Natural gas

Click here to view the Natural Gas Information Sheet (638 KB PDF)

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