By Minister Rich Coleman
Minister of Natural Gas Development
VICTORIA - British Columbia has a large, growing supply of natural gas to support economic growth for decades to come, contrary to a report released recently by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which used incomplete data.
Today, British Columbia has almost 3,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas available. In technical terms, this is known as the 'gas-in-place.'
The author of the CPPA report, however, refers to "gas reserves", which is a subset of "gas-in-place".
Technically, "gas reserves" is estimated at 42.3 trillion cubic feet. This is the recoverable portion British Columbia's total resource base at a certain time, and to suggest it is the total "gas-in-place" misrepresents the facts.
British Columbia's "gas-in-place" today is almost 3,000 trillion cubic feet, derived from a geological assessment by the provincial government, the BC Oil and Gas Commission and Canada's National Energy Board. Using a conservative estimate, if industry recovered 30 per cent of the "gas-in-place" over the long-term, it would harvest well over 800 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is approximately 20 times more natural gas than the recent CCPA report suggests.
That's a substantial amount of gas when you consider only 1.5 trillion cubic feet was produced in the province last year.
To help illustrate the point, if you think of the gas industry as one gas station, you would only have capacity to fill a couple of hundred cars with one tanker of fuel, when in fact, the industry is a network of wells, pipelines, refineries and gas stations which has actually helped to fuel our economy for approximately 100 years.
Just a decade ago, British Columbia was on the verge of reaching peak production from conventional natural gas sources and technology could only recover some of the total available gas. Shale gas - also known as an unconventional gas - was underground in abundance, but it was inaccessible.
Today, with the advent of new technology, production and productivity has improved drastically and industry is able to recover much more gas than they could decades ago. As time progressed, we put strict rules in place to govern industry and ensure it is rigorously monitored and as safe as possible.
Now, some of the world's most promising resource areas are found in B.C. That's why the province is at the forefront of building a new LNG industry. Large, global companies are proposing to invest billions of dollars in B.C. because we have a vast supply of natural gas to sustain exploration and energy trade for hundreds of years, not because our long-term prospects look bleak as the aforementioned CCPA report implies.
I wanted to take this opportunity to assure you that B.C. can and will continue to support a growing natural gas sector for hundreds of years, and we will do so responsibly.
To find a more accurate forecast on the natural gas industry, visit the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission's website at: www.bcogc.ca/lng-forecast-scenario-0
The forecast details a number of exploration and production facts including figures on water usage.
For instance, the natural gas industry used 5.3 million cubic metres of water for hydraulic fracturing in 2013. During the same timeframe, Metro Vancouver used 365 million cubic metres of treated water. In fact, water used for hydraulic fracturing represents but a small percentage of the province's annual runoff.
The forecast also shows approximately 2,100 wells being drilled in 2019 if five LNG export plants were in production in B.C., and fewer each year after that. By using well pads, we can keep the total number of wells drilled to a minimum.
Our research shows a promising supply of natural gas which puts British Columbia in an excellent position to develop a new global industry. We have the resource in place to support a growing natural gas sector for hundreds of years, and we are committed to doing it responsibly.
Liquefied natural gas development wasn't an overnight aspiration for B.C. It was and remains a long-term commitment to build on an existing resource. And, the time has come to capitalize on what has historically been a stranded resource to create jobs and future prosperity for British Columbians.