Market Snapshot: Canadian natural gas liquid production is expected to continue rising in the long term

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Release date: 2020-02-05

Canada Energy Regulator’s Canada’s Energy Future 2019 projects that natural gas liquid (NGL) production will continue to increase to 2040. This is because natural gas production is expected to grow from rising projected natural gas prices and to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. In particular, gas producers are assumed to continue to drill gas resources rich in NGLs like propane, butane, and condensate, which increase producer revenues.

Figure 1. Total NGL Domestic Production in Canada from 2010 to 2040

Source and Description

Source: EF2019

Description: The stacked area chart shows NGL production for ethane, propane, butane, pentanes plus and condensate, and total marketable natural gas production, in Canada, from 2010 to 2040.

In 2010, total NGL production was 681 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d). In 2018 total NGL production was 1.18 million barrels per day (MMb/d) and in 2040 it is projected to be 1.83 MMb/d. In 2010, ethane production was 236 Mb/d, 259 Mb/d in 2018 and in 2040 it is projected to be 227 Mb/d. In 2010, propane production was 183 Mb/d, 280 Mb/d in 2018 and in 2040 it is projected to be 409 Mb/d. In 2010, butane production was 118 Mb/d, 181 Mb/d in 2018 and in 2040 it is projected to be 250 Mb/d. In 2010, pentanes plus production was 104 Mb/d, 140 Mb/d in 2018 and in 2040 it is projected to be 201 Mb/d. In 2010, condensate production was 40 Mb/d, 317 Mb/d in 2018 and in 2040 it is projected to be 740 Mb/d. In 2010, marketable natural gas production was 14.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), 16.2 Bcf/d in 2018 and in 2040 it is projected to be 21.4 Bcf/d.

NGL production grows more than 80% over the projection period. Growth is dominated by condensate, whose production more than doubles by 2040 to help supply diluent demand in the oil sands. Propane and butane production also increase over the projection period. Demand for propane and butane increases in the mid-term as petrochemical use in Alberta and propane and butane exports rise.

Ethane production increases slowly over the projection to 2040, because, even though more ethane is available in production, only so much is removed to supply Alberta’s petrochemical facilities. Ethane surplus to Alberta’s demand is reinjected back into the pipeline system to be consumed by natural gas end users, such as in gas-fired power plants and furnaces.

For a more detailed breakdown of each NGL production, explore Canada’s Energy Future 2019 Supplement: Natural Gas Liquids. Detailed data is also available for the report figures and fact sheet.

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