With natural gas prices reaching levels not seen in seven years, Western Canada is doing all it can to help increase gas supply, with recent data showing monthly production hitting multi-year highs. Moreover, Canadian forward gas prices are at the highest levels since 2014, gas pipeline expansions are in place or being constructed to accommodate future supply expansion, and gas-focused drilling activity remains strong — all of which may as well be a prescription for sending gas production to record levels later this year and in 2022. In today’s RBN blog, we provide an update on the recent gas production growth in Alberta and neighboring provinces and why more growth is coming.
Posts from Martin King
It will still be a few years until Canada joins the ranks of nations exporting natural gas in the form of LNG. Until then, a great deal of work has to be completed on both the LNG Canada liquefaction and export facility in Kitimat, BC, and the primary gas pipeline linked to it: the Coastal GasLink. Unlike most LNG export sites in the U.S., which can receive feedgas from multiple production basins via an array of major trunklines, the LNG Canada plant will be relying on gas supplies from primarily one basin: the Montney in Western Canada. And all that feedgas will be transported across British Columbia through one mammoth pipeline. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the small number of pipelines that will supply gas from the Montney to Coastal GasLink for eventual delivery to LNG Canada.
Supplies of natural gas liquids, especially propane, have become increasingly tight in recent months, with prices reaching multi-year highs in the U.S. and Canada. Despite the strong price signals, increasing production is typically a lengthy, complex, and expensive process involving producers drilling new wells to yield more liquids-rich natural gas and crude oil. There is also another way to increase supplies: by extracting them from already processed and pipelined natural gas via a straddle plant that more intensively recovers additional NGLs, such as propane, from the existing gas supply. Canada’s Wolf Midstream has recently sanctioned such a plant, as well as a related pipeline and extraction plant in Alberta that it hopes to bring into service in 2023. In today’s blog, we examine this new straddle plant and Western Canada’s current propane supply situation.
Although it’s not well publicized, Canada’s oil and gas sector is already a global leader in active projects targeting significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide. These successes — some dating back as far as Y2K — are being used as a springboard for additional projects, all aimed at helping Canada achieve its aggressive GHG-reduction goals for 2030 and beyond. The scale of many of these projects is noteworthy. In today’s blog, we discuss the existing operations and planned projects that together will help the U.S.’s northern neighbor reduce its carbon footprint.
New and expanded efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide, have been making headlines globally on a daily basis for a while now. Canada’s energy industry has been increasingly contributing to that newsfeed this year, with two large projects announced in Alberta that will capture, use, and sequester large volumes of CO2 generated from the oil sands as well as other sources of oil and gas production in Western Canada. In today’s blog, we review the emissions profile of the Canadian oil and gas sector and discuss two of the largest carbon capture, use, and sequestration projects announced to date.
Financial pain, increasing regulatory scrutiny, and rising environmental mandates have been keenly felt across the entire energy industry in the past few years. When times are tough and companies are struggling to regain their footing, corporate mergers often increase in frequency. One recently announced merger between two large Canadian midstream providers, Pembina Pipeline and Inter Pipeline, has grabbed headlines and is also turning into a corporate dogfight with a prominent third party trying to scuttle the merger and take control of Inter Pipeline. Today, we examine the two companies and what the combined entity might look like and what it might mean for the energy industry in Canada.
Western Canada’s Montney-sourced natural gas production has been on a remarkable upward trajectory in the past decade. Most of this growth has been focused in one province: British Columbia. However, that progress has not come without difficulty. A key challenge during BC’s gas boom has been providing sufficient pipeline takeaway capacity — the hurdles include the BC Montney’s remoteness, various regulatory impediments, and the unique geologic nature of the play. For this amazing gas supply growth story to continue well into the future, more pipeline capacity needs to be constructed. In our concluding blog on the Montney, we discuss recent pipeline developments and the challenges still ahead.
The immense Montney Formation in Western Canada is almost equally divided between the two provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. However, on either side of the provincial border there are stark differences in the number of wells drilled, well length, well productivity, and natural gas production. All these differences have resulted in Alberta being the much smaller player in the Montney gas story, with production from its side of the formation only helping to hold the line on Alberta’s total gas output in the past few years. Today, we continue our Montney analysis by looking at gas well trends on the Alberta side of this prolific formation.
The Montney Formation in British Columbia and Alberta is exclusively responsible for the turnaround in Western Canada’s natural gas production in the past decade. Gas production in the Montney — a vast area with extraordinary reserves — has doubled in that time, with most of that growth coming from the BC side of the formation. This phenomenal growth story stems from a few key factors, including steadily improving gas well performance and increasing wellbore length, coupled with access to an established network of gas pipelines. Today, we delve into what has made BC’s portion of the Montney such as standout.
In just a few years, the Montney Formation has become the most prolific natural gas production region in Western Canada. Starting from zero in 2005, the Montney has been the primary growth engine for gas supplies and continues to challenge producers to deal with its vast geographic extent and enormous reserve potential. Spread across swaths of Canada’s two westernmost provinces, the formation’s unique geology has meant that its gas production growth has moved at different speeds depending on location, geology, and pipeline access. In this first part of a three-part series, we take a closer look at this important formation.
Every gas storage injection season gives us a chance to size up how supply and demand components might influence how much gas can be stuffed away in underground reservoirs prior to the next heating season. For the Canadian storage injection season that is just getting underway, a number of factors have shifted that balance, resulting in a slowing rate of gas storage builds this year. A slower build, and subsequently lower storage levels by the end of the injection season than last year, seems likely to provide solid support for Canadian gas prices. Today, we review the latest developments and outlook for gas fundamentals in Canada.
Corporate mergers and asset acquisitions are the normal course of business in almost any industry, but the pace of this kind of activity has recently picked up among Canada’s natural gas producers. Battered by several years of low prices, market share loss, and declining production, the position for many already-struggling gas producers only got worse when COVID hit last year. As you might expect, better placed and stronger gas producers are looking at struggling companies that have attractive assets to see if they might make accretive asset purchases or outright corporate takeovers. Today, we examine some of the most prominent natural-gas-related transactions and the motivations behind them.
Production of synthetic crude oil that is processed from Alberta’s oil sands reached record highs at the end of 2020 after touching on two year lows just four months earlier. However, these highs could be undermined and sink to four-year lows for a short period of time this spring with what appears to be a heavier than usual slate of maintenance work on three of Alberta’s four upgraders, the immense processing units that produce synthetic crude oil from bitumen. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the upgraders, the timing of maintenance, and what this might mean for synthetic crude oil production and exports.
Last summer, Alberta natural gas prices staged a remarkable turnaround from the dismal lows and extreme volatility experienced the prior three summers. The price rise is widely credited to a temporary gas flow mechanism put in place by the operator of Alberta’s gas pipeline grid to combat congestion and oversupply issues associated with construction and maintenance during the summer of 2020. However, this temporary mechanism was just that — temporary — and will not be reinstated this summer. Without it, there is concern among Western Canadian gas producers that the weakness and volatility in gas prices seen during past summers might return this year. With warmer weather on the horizon, today we consider these issues and the potential for renewed price weakness in the Alberta natural gas market this year.
Many countries like to talk about energy independence, but Canada is one of the few to come close to that elusive goal. For many years, Western Canada has produced more than enough crude oil to satisfy the demand of refineries in the region. More recently, a combination of rising Western Canadian oil production, and new and reworked pipelines, has enabled many of Canada’s eastern refineries to increase their intake of Western Canadian barrels. In the few remaining cases where they can’t, imported barrels from the U.S. have filled the gap, leaving crude imports from overseas accounting for just 1% of the market. Not surprisingly, Canada is also a net exporter of refined products, with refiners in Western Canada, and especially Atlantic Canada, producing far more than the country’s demand. Today, we conclude our series on Canada’s refining sector with a look at its growing reliance on Western Canadian crude oil and its ability to meet most of Canada’s need for gasoline and distillates.