Looking ahead to 2040, we see future population and economic growth fuelling higher demand for energy. Over the next two decades, economic development will contribute to a 30 percent increase in global energy demand compared to 2010 levels. This increase in demand will need to be matched by new supply but also balanced with growing expectations for cleaner energy sources.
This has important consequences for natural gas.
Over the last 100 years, natural gas has become an essential fuel for meeting our energy challenges, and now provides more than 20 percent of global energy demand worldwide. By 2040, we expect gas to play an even larger role as the world's energy mix continues to grow more diverse.
Natural gas is abundant, affordable and versatile. It also produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions when burned, and leaves a substantially lower carbon footprint compared to other fossil fuels such as coal.
In addition, combined use of new and existing technology has made it economically feasible to tap enormous supplies of unconventional natural gas that are found in tight rock and shale as well as coalbed methane. Growing extraction of unconventional resources is playing a key role in the way gas is produced around the world.
By 2040, we expect natural gas will supply more than 25 percent of the world's energy needs. At the same time, worldwide demand for natural gas will increase by more than 60 percent from 2010. This change will be especially important in the electricity sector, as more companies that generate electricity move away from a reliance on coal
global natural gas supply and demand
NATURAL GAS AND GLOBAL ENERGY DEMAND
Abundant Canadian resource
Canada has an abundant supply and is the world's third largest producer of natural gas.
Our country's proven natural gas reserves are estimated at 61 trillion cubic feet. (Proven reserves are quantities of gas immediately available in drilled reservoirs and connected to pipelines and markets.)
This, however, is only a small portion of the natural gas that could eventually be produced. Recent estimates show Canada has about 700 to 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resource. This resource – which includes proven reserves and discovered but undeveloped quantities of gas –- is enough to support current production levels for more than 100 years.
Canada's natural gas supply picture is evolving, with changes in technology and new discoveries.
Up until the 1990s, most of Canada's natural gas production came from conventional sources in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. But these mature resources are declining.
Now, with advances in drilling technologies, our industry is able to cost-effectively unlock natural gas from a range of unconventional sources. These include shale gas found in fine-grained sedimentary rocks and coalbed methane found in some coal seams. According to National Energy Board estimates, production from unconventional gas sources made up 36 percent of our country's natural gas supply in 2009. By 2035, this could grow to 60 percent.
Natural gas in Canada
Shale gas is natural gas found in shale, a fine-grained sedimentary rock. The gas is tightly locked in very small spaces in the rock and requires advanced technologies to drill and enable the gas to flow to the well.
Today our industry is in the early stages of exploring for and developing shale gas resources in Canada. Most of this development is concentrated in northeast British Columbia, where a number of companies, including Imperial, have been working to develop plays in the Horn River Basin since 2007. Shale gas resources have also been identified in Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories.
Tight gas is found trapped in impermeable rock and non-porous sandstone or limestone formations, typically at depths greater than 10,000 feet below the surface. The viability of sandstone reservoirs is determined by their porosity, or the open space between grains, and permeability, or how easily fluid or gas moves through the rock.