History Of The Petroleum Industry In Canada (natural Gas)
Natural gas has been used almost as long as crude oil in Canada, but its commercial development was not as rapid. This is because of special properties of this energy commodity: it is a gas, and it frequently contains impurities. The technical challenges involved to first process and then pipe it to market are therefore considerable. Furthermore, the costs of pipeline building make the whole enterprise capital intensive, requiring both money and engineering expertise, and large enough markets to make the business profitable.
Until it became commercially viable, natural gas was often a nuisance. Dangerous to handle and hard to get to market, early oilmen despised it as a poor relation to its rich cousin crude oil. Although early processing procedures were able to remove water, in the 19th century discoveries were only developed if consumers could use the gas just as it came out of the ground. If the gas required further processing or needed to be piped a long distance to market, the producer shut in the well. Flares got rid of gas coming from oil wells.
Natural gas processing changes the commodity in two critical ways. First, it extracts valuable by-products; second, it renders natural gas fit to be transported to a point for commercial sale and consumption. Through the use of evolving technology, the gas processing industry of each era extracts higher percentages of a wider range of hydrocarbons and other commercial by-products than its predecessors. It also removes ever-higher percentages of dangerous and other unwanted impurities. Steady growth has made natural gas a major industry, with 180 cubic kilometres of gas flowing from Canadian fields to market, every year.
Part of a series on Canada's petroleum industry, this entry focuses on the second of these two functions of gas processing - removing impurities from the gas stream - rather than recovering natural gas liquids, described elsewhere. Of course, most large plants perform both functions, and plants have no other ultimate purpose than to quickly, safely and profitably turn raw gas into products to be safely shipped (mostly by pipeline) to market. The discussion covers gas processing as an engineering feat, critical developments in exploration and development and the fundamentals of the marketplace.
Read more about History Of The Petroleum Industry In Canada (natural Gas): Early Times, Canada's First Sweetening Plant, Gas Conservation After Leduc, Schemata of A Gas Plant, Selling The Products, Exploration and Development, Supply, Demand and Price, Complacency, Metric Conversions
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